Rare Sumatran tiger cub born at Fota Wildlife Park

Fewer than 500 of the endangered subspecies remain in the wild

A rare Sumatran tiger cub has been born at Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.

The cub, whose sex is yet unknown, is one of the rarest subspecies of tiger in the world, which has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2008.

Now almost seven weeks old, it was born on May 7th to first-time parents, five-year-old mother Dourga and father Denar who is also aged five.

The wildlife park is asking members of the public to suggest a name beginning with ‘D’ for the cub.

Director of Fota Wildlife Park Sean McKeown said: “This is a landmark birth for us - apart from the fact this is the first time that a tiger has been born in Fota, but also because this subspecies is so vulnerable to extinction as there are as few as 300 to 500 individuals remaining in the wild.

“The Sumatran tiger is Indonesia’s last tiger subspecies and it’s being pushed further and further towards extinction due to the devastation of their natural habitats, conflicts with humans and the deadly trade that poachers purvey.

“ Therefore, anything we can do to contribute to the continued survival and genetic diversity of this subspecies is vitally important.”

Mr McKeown said the birth of the cub would help raise the profile of the plight of the Sumatran tiger and further educate the visiting public of the need to conserve the beautiful and endangered species.

Lead ranger Kerry Lambe said the tiger cub's parents Dourga and Denar "hit it off from the start with lots of friendly chuffs or vocalisations exchanged during their initial courtship".

“We are delighted to welcome this beautiful new addition to the park, who will be a valuable member of the larger tiger family therefore helping to ensure the survival of the species all whilst being incredible cute.”

Dourga and Denar arrived at Fota’s Asian sanctuary in March 2014 as part of the international tiger breeding programme.

Dourga originally came from Le Parc des Félins in France and the father, Denar, from Warsaw City Zoo in Poland.

They share their habitat with two other Sumatran tigers; Batak, a three-year-old male that came in 2015 from Zoo Parc de Beauval in France and Mayang, a five-year-old female who arrived last week from Safari Zoo in the UK.

Fota Wildlife Park is sponsoring the 21st Century Tiger poaching prevention programme in Sumatra as part of its ongoing contribution to wild tiger conservation.

To date it has raised over €27,000 for wild tiger conservation, which has earned a gold award from 21st Century Tiger, an initiative to conserve tigers in their wild habitat.

Members of the public are in with a chance to win a year's conservation membership of Fota Wildlife Park if they suggest a name for the cub on the website at fotawildlife.ie