London

Sumatran tiger cubs born at London Zoo

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Media captionThe cubs were born at the start of February

Hidden cameras have captured the birth of three tiger cubs at London Zoo.

The tigers were born to five-year-old Sumatran tigress Melati on 3 February after a 106-day pregnancy.

The entire birth process was monitored using remote camera technology. The zoo has yet to establish the sex of the cubs.

In the 1970s, there were 1,000 Sumatran tigers in the wild but there are now believed to be around 300.

The cubs arrived in the early hours, and all were born within an hour. The first cub was born at 00:28 GMT, the second at 00:59 GMT and the third made its entrance into the world at 01:18 GMT.

Image copyright Zoological Society of London/PA
Image caption The cubs were born to five-year-old Sumatran tigress Melati

The cubs remain together with Mother Melati inside special "cubbing dens" with their mother only occasionally venturing away from her babies for food.

Their birth comes less than six months after the death of the zoo's first Sumatran tiger cub in 17 years.

Keepers at the zoo were left "distraught" after the cub was found drowned on the edge of the pool inside the tigers' enclosure, two weeks after its birth in October.

Image copyright Zoological Society of London/PA
Image caption The cubs arrived in the early hours, and all were born within an hour

Zookeeper Teague Stubbington said: "We couldn't be more delighted with our new arrivals, and with how Melati is responding to her three cubs.

"We've been observing them 24/7, and one of us is always on duty to keep an eye on the little ones throughout the night.

"We've even been able to observe key milestones like their eyes opening and their tentative first steps.

"We've nicknamed one Trouble, as it's much bolder than the others - it was the first to start exploring its den, and we've spotted it waking up its siblings when they fall asleep."

While mother Melati relaxes with her cubs, visitors to the zoo can still see six-year-old father Jae Jae in Tiger Territory.

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