New tiger cubs settling in at Safari Park

Cute, soon ti be lethal tiger cubs/San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Two adorable male tiger cubs are are now available for visitors to see at Escondido’s San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cubs, who have not yet been named, are from different species of tiger and were put together to give each other company.

The cubs have bonded well, and they are growing in leaps and bounds. They are currently fully weaned from formula, and are exclusively eating a carnivore diet. Both cubs now weigh 32 pounds. As they continue to grow, the Bengal tiger will eventually outweigh the Sumatran tiger by about 200 pounds, given the difference between these two tiger subspecies.

“We feel really fortunate to have these two cubs here. It was an unusual circumstance for us to acquire them, but we think they’re in the best possible hands, and they’re going to have a wonderful life while they’re here at Tiger Trail.

“The two cubs are adjusting really well to their new home. They’re doing great. They act like little brothers; they play and cuddle a lot, and they squabble a bit like most brothers, but it’s all natural, healthy behavior.”

— Lori Hieber, senior mammal keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

One cub is an endangered Bengal tiger rescued from smugglers. The Bengal cub is only three months old and was discovered in August by border officials when the truck containing him was stopped at a border crossing near Mesa Otay.

An 18-year-old from Perris, California has been charged with attempting to smuggle the cub into the United States. The cub was rescued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and loaned to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for proper care.

The zoo also received a rare Sumatran tiger cub in September. The cub, born on July 11, was one of three Sumatran tigers living in Washington D.C. at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Zoo employees spotted his mother growling and biting him and decided that the pair would never properly bond.

As-yet unnamed tiger cub chews on a plaything/San Diego zoo Safari Park

They then shipped the helpless cub across the country to San Diego Zoo Safari Park for his safety. The cubs are housed together in Safari Park’s nursery where they are fed nutritious formula to keep them healthy. Currently, zoo officials say they are gradually introducing more ground beef into their diet.

The two now live at the Tull Family Tiger Trail at the Safari Park. They previously have been at the Safari Park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center.

The cubs will soon be ensconced permanently in the park’s Tiger Trail exhibit. For now, staff are rotating them between the nursery and the natural-style exhibit to accustom them to their new home. Presently, the cubs are the same size and weigh only 32 pounds.

However, zoo employees say that the Bengal cub could eventually grow into an adult that weighs more than 700 pounds. In contrast, average adult male Sumatran tigers typically weigh between 220 to 310 pounds.

The future of both tiger subspecies is in great doubt. The Bengal tiger is endangered, and the Sumatran tiger is critically endangered Sumatran tiger.

“Tigers are killed by poachers who illegally sell tiger body parts, mostly for folk remedies,” according to a statement from the zoo. “People can help protect wild tigers by avoiding products made with non-sustainable palm oil, an industry that harms tiger habitat; and by refusing to purchase items made from endangered wildlife.”

The Sumatran tiger is listed as a critically endangered species. Experts believe that only about 400 Sumatran tigers are still living in the wild, a steep decline from an estimated population of 1,000 in 1978.

The cubs are on exhibit every day from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The park website also offers an online tiger cam where those unable to make the trip to Escondido can watch the cubs sleep and play.

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