Weeks after tiger birth, zoo declares cub a male
It appears that the Sumatran tiger cub born this month at the National Zoo is a male. This was not obvious when the cub was born July 11, and obtaining the information took some luck.
“It can be difficult to determine” the gender of a newborn cat, said Craig Saffoe, who is curator of the zoo’s Great Cats. The anatomical features that could assist in the determination “can look very similar for the first few weeks,” he said Thursday.
Not only that, but as may seem obvious, trying to spirit a tiger cub from its mother for purposes of examination is not the sort of task that many would anticipate with enthusiasm.
It seems, however, that there have been moments when the cub’s mother, Damai, has left the den, for food and hygiene. These times apparently permitted telling scrutiny of the newborn.
“At a glance,” said Saffoe, “it appears that Damai has a male cub!”
Few mammals seem to have the same tenacious grip on the popular imagination as the tiger.
A resident of the land of both myth and metaphor, the tiger probably prowls the corridors of the mind as much or more than it does its natural habitat, and hence its doings have a special fascination.
The Sumatran tiger is particularly hard-pressed to survive in the wild. According to the zoo, it is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Estimates suggest that the numbers living in the wild are between 300 and 400.
So the birth earlier this month of the cub was greeted at the zoo with great excitement.
Describing the birth as a milestone, the zoo said it was Damai’s second, and a first for the father, Sparky. The birth came 18 days before the day designated as “Global Tiger Day.”
To help observe the day, on Saturday the zoo provided a couple of salient tiger facts.
One was that, as the old saying has it, you can tell a tiger by its stripes. Each tiger has a unique pattern, the zoo said, and scientists use them for identification.