An endangered Amur tiger cub has been flown from the St. Louis Zoo to the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley where it will be hand-reared with another newborn of the breed, zoo officials said Tuesday.
The cub from St. Louis was born July 1 and arrived in Apple Valley on Thursday. Zoo officials said they hope that bringing the two female cubs together will encourage their natural tiger behaviors. Neither cub was successfully nursed by its mother. The cubs are not yet on exhibit but can be seen via webcam at www.startribune.com/a1542.
Steve Bircher, curator of mammals at the St. Louis Zoo, said, "Tigers learn from other tigers, so that kind of socialization with a cub her age will be good for this cub."
The Minnesota Zoo's cub was one of two born on June 17. The smaller of the two died a few days later.
The St. Louis cub, after landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on a flight donated by Delta, was brought directly to the Minnesota Zoo, examined by veterinarians and placed with the other cub.
Since it opened in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has welcomed nearly 40 Amur tiger cubs.
The Amur tiger, the largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, is a top predator of far eastern Asia. Its thick fur and padded paws protect it against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while its stripes help render it invisible to prey.
In about 1940, the wild Amur tiger population in Russia was estimated to be as low as 20 or 30. In 2005, scientists estimated that it had recovered to between 430 and 500, but it is thought that wild Amur tigers have since declined to about 350.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482