They are hesitant, faltering steps for the young cubs but giant moments for an endangered species of tiger. The trio of Amur Tigers emerged into public daylight for the first time yesterday to signal hope for a majestic animal pushed to the brink of extinction.
Under the watchful gaze of mum Tschuna the 8-week-old cubs enjoyed their first brief public display at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park before retreating back under cover.
The litter has yet to be named but their existence is a clear message that the programme to rebuild the Amur population from its dangerously low base of just 450 animals in the wild is enjoying success.
Poaching and disappearing habitat from logging have pushed the Amurs into small pockets in the far east of Russia. “It is wonderful to have three healthy cubs of this incredibly beautiful animal. Amur tiger cubs are very rare indeed so we are delighted they have been born here,” said Cheryl Williams, director at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster.
“They are a great success story for the European Breeding programme and our conservation work here in Yorkshire. It is fantastic news and the public will love them – they are very playful and full of life.”Cheryl Williams - Director
Their parents, six-year-old Vlad and Tschuna, four, were introduced at the innovative walk-through park, at Branton, last September and the litter was born on March 29.
The trio will all receive names beginning with H as will all animals born at YWP in 2015. After their brief venture outside they retreated back inside.
The 70-acre park specialises in conservation and has grown from 50,000 visitors six years ago to expected annual figures of more than 600,000 in 2015.
Last year, it celebrated the arrival of Victor, a 15-year-old polar bear, who was an instant visitor favourite in his 10 acre purpose built reserve. Earlier this year, he was joined by a two-year-old companion, Pixel, as the Park continued its conservation work. “We are committed to saving species that are under desperate threats,” added Ms Williams. “It is such a joy to see the new Amurs and know that another crucial step has been made to save them.”
YWP has a fun packed programme of Half Term entertainment with their pride of lions rescued from an Eastern European zoo celebrating their fifth anniversary out in Lion Country. The holiday coincides with Love Your Zoo Week during which visitors can enjoy a special series of daily events (full details on their website).
As ever, YWP offers a magical walk through experience giving them unrivalled access to some of the world’s most beautiful and at risk animals, including Amur Leopards , Giraffes, Meerkats and many many more.
* The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation is raising money for Amur Tigers in the wild. Visit www.ywpfoundation.com for full details.
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