Rare Sumatran tiger eats her cubs at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

December 29, 2014 16:46

From a past litter, the tiger Hannah has a surviving offspring who is living in a zoo in southern France.

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The two tiger cubs eaten by their mother.

The two tiger cubs eaten by their mother.. (photo credit:Courtesy)

In a major disappointment for the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo's endangered species breeding program, staff discovered last week that a rare Sumatran tigress had eaten her two cubs.

The tiger, 10-year-old Hannah, had a history of not taking care of her cubs, Dr. Nili Avni-Magen Head veterinarian and zoological director at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

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Of Hannah's three previous litters, Avni-Magen said there was only one surviving tiger, Sylvester, who was born in 2009 and was hand-raised by zoo staff. Subsequently, he was moved to a zoo in southern France.

Avni-Magen said that in the fourth litter one of the cubs died at birth but the two others had a good start with Hannah allowing them to feed and generally taking care of them.

But at around six weeks, when the zoo wished to weigh the cubs, they found signs that Hannah had eaten them.

The head veterinarian said that the phenomenon of big cats ceasing to care for their young and eating them is common in nature but that the zoo was disappointed because it waited for the opportunity to show the cubs to the public and increase the population of the species. 

Avni-Magen said that the zoo was hopeful that Hannah would have a fifth litter from her ten-year-old mate Avigdor and that better results would ensue. 

A critically endangered species due to habitat loss, Dr. Avni-Magen said there are around 400 Sumatran tigers on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and there are an additional 400 in zoos around the world. 

(Photo: Hannah the tiger)

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