Endangered Amur tiger cubs take first steps outside

The three cubs were born in May at the Highland Wildlife Park.

Three endangered Amur tiger cubs have been exploring their outside enclosure for the first time at their home in the Highlands.

Following their first health check and vaccinations, the three cubs will have regular time outdoors from Monday at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie.

The cubs were born in May to mother Dominika and father Botzman.

Highland Wildlife Park tiger cubs
The cubs have so far spent most of their time inside with their mother (Jane Barlow/PA)

Since they were born, they have been spending most of their time in the cubbing den with their mother, and their father will be gradually introduced to them as they grow older.

Keith Gilchrist, animal collection manager at Highland Wildlife Park, said: “At ten weeks old, our cubs are getting braver and more playful every day, with their personalities already starting to develop. It is lovely to see just how excited our visitors are to meet them.

“Given how young they are, they won’t be allowed outside for the whole day and will likely only be out for short bursts, followed by long naps indoors.”

Two of the cubs are female and will be named by the wildlife conservation charity’s donors, in tribute to the tigers’ native home of Russia.

RZSS is asking the public to help name the third cub, a male, via its social media platforms.

Mr Gilchrist said: “We wanted to give the trio names which would pay tribute to their native home and help raise awareness of the plight this endangered species and sadly many others, face in the wild.

Two of the three Amur tiger cubs, with their mother
Two of the three Amur tiger cubs, with their mother (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Two of our generous donors will be naming our female cubs and we are asking the public to help us name our little boy on our social media platforms, by picking from two names shortlisted by our keepers, Aleksander and Dimitri.

“Aleksander was chosen as the cubs were born on carnivore keeper Alex’s birthday and Dimitri is a Russian name meaning earth-lover after Greek goddess Demeter.”

Anyone wanting to visit the park must book their tickets online in advance as visitor numbers are being restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Daska Mackintosh, head of operations and visitor services at Highland Wildlife Park, said: “Every visit to Highland Wildlife Park helps care for amazing animals in Scotland and around the world, so it is wonderful to see more and more people coming back and hoping to see our Amur tiger family.

“We are so grateful for the support we have had from the public throughout this incredibly challenging year for our charity. If restrictions continue to ease, we are on track to have one of our best summers yet.

“Our visitor numbers are still limited for everyone’s safety, so I would like to remind everyone to check online and book ahead to avoid disappointment.”

People can vote for the male cub’s name by visiting @HighlandWPark on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Dominika was born at Highland Wildlife Park in 2009 and gave birth to her first litter of cubs in 2013.

Botzman fathered three cubs in 2018 at Whipsnade Zoo and arrived at Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie last October.

In the wild, the tigers are now only found in isolated populations around the Amur river valley in the far east of Russia, and on the north-east border of China.

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