Three genetically rare (and adorable) tiger cubs were born at the Cincinnati Zoo last week.
The Malayan tiger cubs are being cared for in the zoo's nursery because their mom wasn't keeping them warm enough, the zoo says. (It was apparently her first time being a mom.)
“It’s not uncommon for first-time tiger moms not to know what to do. They can be aggressive and even harm or kill the cubs,” Mike Dulaney, curator of mammals and vice coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP, said in a statement. “Nursery staff is keeping them warm and feeding them every three hours.”
Here's adorable video of the cubs in the nursery:
Once the cubs are old enough, they'll move back into the exhibit with the other tigers.
These cubs are pretty special
Malayan tigers are rare in general – they're endangered, with fewer than 500 left in the world.
When there are so few of these tigers, it can make breeding a little difficult as zoos aim to keep the genetic makeup of animals unique.
That's where these three cubs come in. Their mom, Cinta, is the second-most genetically valuable female Malayan tiger in the zoo population, and their father, Jalil, is the third-most genetically important male.
So when it comes time for these cubs to start having their own babies, they may be able to contribute to the genetic diversity of Malayan tigers that are in captivity, the zoo says.
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