A rare Amur tiger cub born this month at the Philadelphia Zoo was sent Thursday to a zoo in Oklahoma to join a litter there.
The cub, named Zoya by zoo staff, was the only survivor of a five-cub litter born July 10 and was being neglected by her mother, zoo officials said.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden offered to have Zoya join three Sumatran tiger cubs that were recently born there and were being well cared for by their mother.
“With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers,” said Andy Baker, the Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer.
Zoya was born to 10-year-old mother Koosaka and 9-year-old father Grom. Two other cubs were stillborn. A third was accidentally injured by Koosaka and died.
Koosaka did not show maternal behavior to the remaining two cubs, and after staff found their body temperatures were low, the cubs were moved to the zoo’s animal hospital. One of the cubs had a medical emergency and did not survive.
Zoya, however, has done well, growing from a birth weight of 2 pounds to nearly 4 pounds in 10 days. “Zoya” is a Russian first name meaning “life.”
Zoo staff were concerned about hand-rearing Zoya apart from the socialization of a mother and litter mates.
After consultations with zoo officials around the country, the plan to move Zoya was developed. The Oklahoma zoo had three Sumatran tiger cubs born July 9.
Zoo officials expressed caution about the integration plan, saying there was a risk that the Sumatran mother may reject Zoya.
“We are privileged to assist the Philadelphia Zoo with this unique situation and understand how crucial this cross-fostering scenario is for Zoya’s survival,” said Barry Downer, Oklahoma City Zoo deputy director and chief operating officer.
Both Amur and Sumatran tigers are endangered in the wild.