One of the important benefits of being an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is the ability to collaborate with other members to ensure top quality animal care.
This month, the Saint Louis Zoo and Minnesota Zoo have done just that to help an endangered female Amur tiger cub.
Born on July 1 at the Saint Louis Zoo, the cub has been hand-reared since her birth. To ensure the best socialization, animal care staff from both the Saint Louis Zoo and the Minnesota Zoo, along with the AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator, decided the new cub should complete her hand-rearing at the Minnesota Zoo with its resident cub, who was born on June 17 and is also being hand-reared by staff. Hand-rearing was necessary in both cases because the mothers did not successfully nurse the cubs.
On July 19, the cub was transferred to the Minnesota Zoo from the Saint Louis Zoo. After landing at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, with transportation provided through an in-kind donation by Delta Air Lines, the tiger cub was taken directly to the Minnesota Zoo, where she was given an examination by veterinarians. She then joined the Zoo’s resident tiger cub in their secure holding area. With both cubs being hand-raised, Minnesota Zoo staff hopes the social interaction between them enforces their natural tiger behaviors.
“I am proud to be part of such an important collaboration,” said Diana Weinhardt, the Minnesota Zoo’s Northern Trail supervisor. “Working with the Saint Louis Zoo to provide the best social situation for these cubs has been a highlight of my zoo career. We are doing everything we can to make this the best possible situation.”
Steve Bircher, curator of mammals at the Saint Louis Zoo, is also pleased with this arrangement. “Tigers learn from other tigers, so that kind of socialization with a cub her age will be good for this cub.”
While the tiger cubs are currently off exhibit at this time, they can be viewed on the Minnesota Zoo’s tiger webcam at http://www.mnzoo.org/animals/animals_liveCam_tigerCub.asp
Amur tigers are the largest cats in the world. The species is found in isolated habitats primarily in southeastern Russia and northern China. Amur tigers are endangered, and scientists estimate there to be fewer than 500 left in the wild.