Endangered Sumatran Tiger Delivers Cub. An Hour Later, Camera Films Something Thrilling

September 2, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2019

The zookeepers were elated when an endangered Sumatran tigress went into labor. Shortly after she gave birth to a cub, the zookeepers, who had their eyes glued to the camera, witnessed something incredible.

The 7-year-old Sumatran tigress, named Melati, was expecting, so the staff at ZSL London Zoo kept a close eye on the mom-to-be via a remote camera system nicknamed “cubcam.” The new mom, from a critically endangered species of the world, went into labor on June 27, 2016. She gave birth to a healthy cub after a 108-day pregnancy; moments later, the dad, Jae Jae, also came over to check on the newborn.

But less than one hour later, the zookeepers noticed something.

Beautiful Melati ❤️

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Melati was not feeling comfortable but acting kind of “strange.” This worried the zookeepers; however, it didn’t take long for the staff to realize that the new mom was in labor again, and then she delivered the second cub—twins!

The staff were thrilled and overjoyed with the birth of two “world’s rarest tigers.”

Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered subspecies of tiger native to the jungles in Sumatra, Indonesia. “With wild Sumatran tiger numbers estimated to be as low as 300 individuals, the cubs represent a huge achievement not just for ZSL London Zoo but for the global breeding program of this critically endangered species,” the press release noted.

Andjar Rafiastanto, a manager working in Indonesia to protect the wild Sumatran tigers, said: “ZSL has been in Sumatra for more than 14 years, working with our government counterparts to increase the protection of Sumatran tigers. The birth of these two tiger cubs brings us hope for their long-term survival.”

Jae Jae and Melati

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Sunday, May 5, 2013

According to the zoo’s press release, the staff watched excitedly as the first cub arrived at 9:19 a.m., and in less than one hour, they noticed a second cub was born at 10:02 a.m.

The newborn cubs—Achilles, the male cub, and Karis, the female cub—were then cleaned by their mom before they nestled in for their first feed, while their mom took a rest. In a video released by the zoo, the newborn cubs are shown to be active and playful.

“We’re overjoyed with our new arrivals, and with how Melati is responding to her two cubs,” Teague Stubbington, an assistant curator of mammals, said in the press release.

Just some adorable pictures of Melati and her new #TigerCubs to make your Sunday even better!

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Sunday, July 17, 2016

If there was an award for sweetest family, our beautiful Sumatran tigers would definitely win.

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Monday, February 6, 2017

“The cubcam allows us to observe the youngsters 24/7 while not disturbing mom or dad at all, which is ideal while they get to know their babies. One of us is always on duty to keep an eye on the little ones throughout the night. Dad Jae Jae has also been spotted taking a peek at his new-borns!”

In case one wants to tell the twins apart, the zoo wrote in a blog post that one should look out for “two distinct curves that come out of the outer corners” of Achilles’s eyes.

“These thick, dark lines are extremely prominent in comparison to the markings around Karis’s eyes, making it quite a nifty way to tell the two apart.”

This week's Fan Friday photo just had to be this adorable picture of Sumatran tiger cubs Achilles and Karis!

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Friday, November 4, 2016

Melati and Jae Jae have swapped sides in Tiger Territory, meaning our cubs have plenty of exploring to do! Can you catch a glimpse this weekend?

Posted by ZSL London Zoo on Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sadly, nearly three years after delivering Achilles and Karis on Feb. 8, 2019, Melati, 10, was killed by another male tiger, Asim, at London Zoo.

Asim, originally from a Danish safari park, was transferred to London Zoo so that he could serve as a “perfect mate” for Melati. Jae Jae, who had fathered seven cubs with Melati, relocated to French zoo Le Parc des Félins on Jan. 30, 2019.

However, the first meeting between Asim and Melati quickly escalated into a “more aggressive” interaction. Embroiled in a fight, Asim killed Melati.

“Everyone here at ZSL London Zoo is devastated by the loss of Melati and we are heartbroken by this turn of events,” the zoo tweeted.

Watch the video:

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