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Video: Dublin Zoo to unveil endangered tiger cubs

A two-month old Amur tiger cub, one of Dublin Zoo's new arrivals 
Michelle Devane, Press Association

?Two endangered tiger cubs are set to be unveiled to the public at Dublin Zoo next year.

The Amur cubs, who are both females, were born in October after a 106-day pregnancy to first-time mother, three-year-old Tundra, and eight-year-old father Ussuri.

Director Leo Oosterweghel said the zoo has been celebrating the arrivals, who have not yet been shown to the public.

He said that Tundra was taking to motherhood very well and her cubs have bonded well with her.

"She's perfect, she's just amazing looking after them," he said.

"Often with cats, the first litter is touch-and-go - but these guys, they are powering ahead."

Mr Oosterweghel said it has not been decided when visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the cubs, it will depend on when the cubs are ready.

"They are still with their mother, they're weaning now, they are eating meat and they've sharp little teeth," he said.

An endangered species, Amur tigers - which were formerly known as Siberian tigers, are native to eastern Russia, China and the Korean peninsula.

They are now found primarily in a small part of the Amur river region on the border between China and Russia.

It is estimated that about 540 remain in the wild.

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In the 1940s, numbers had dwindled to 40 due to hunting before a conservation effort boosted the population.

Mr Oosterweghel said he keeps a close eye on the cubs via a live feed camera set up in the habitat that he can access on his phone.

They are currently in a private enclosure with their mother, while their father remains outside.

Like all tiger cubs, they were born with their eyes closed and were unable to see for the first 12-14 days.

At two weeks, one cub weighed 3.14 kg and the other weighed 2.79kg. They have been gaining weight every day but it will still take them time before they catch up with their parents.

Their mother weighs 124 kilos while their father weighs almost 200 kilos.

Team leader Ciaran McMahon said: "They're doing extremely well. All they do is feed all day constantly off the mother. Their growth rate is quite rapid."

He added that it was significant that both cubs were females.

"It's a big, big lottery plus for us," Mr McMahon said.

Dublin Zoo is part of an international breeding programme designed to ensure the survival of tigers in their natural habitat.

Once they reach adulthood, the cubs will be sent to other zoos for breeding with the aim of adding to the declining population.

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