Tigress Gives Birth to Lifeless Cub but When She Starts Licking it, a Miracle Unfolds

August 28, 2019 Updated: September 3, 2019

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the tiger subspecies with less than 400 estimated to remain in the wild. However, the good news is this tiger family is growing at Australia Zoo in Queensland. Australia Zoo, owned by the Irwin family, welcomed the historic birth of a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs in 2013, and then again with another pair in 2016!

Kaitlyn, a purebred Sumatran tiger, gave birth to her pair of healthy newborn tigers—Hunter and Clarence—after approximately 6.5 hours of labor on Aug. 22, 2013. Hunter and Clarence made history by being the first Sumatran cubs born in the zoo, a significant achievement indeed, considering the Sumatran tiger is critically endangered.

The Big Cats crew at Australia Zoo are pleased to announce the pregnancy of one of our gorgeous Sumatran tigers! An…

Posted by Australia Zoo on Sunday, April 7, 2013

Zoo staff stood by and watched with bated breath the entire birthing process on a TV monitor just outside Kaitlyn’s enclosure. If they were needed, they were there.

When the first cub, born at 5:07 p.m., wasn’t showing any signs of life, vets were faced with the difficult decision to either intervene or let this tiger mom do her thing. They hesitatingly opted for the latter option as they observed what was unfolding before them.

Giles is pleased with how the birth went and says first time mum Kaitlyn is a natural!Mum and cubs are currently LIVE on Cub Cam, watch now! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsAotjnMGvE #CubCam #TigerCam

Posted by Australia Zoo on Sunday, August 25, 2013

Amazingly, Kaitlyn’s maternal instincts kicked in, and she was literally attempting to lick her cub to life. Her long, warm tongue firmly pressing down on the cub’s chest with each lick was almost like a round of tiger CPR.

Suddenly, when a faint sound was heard, the astonished staff rejoiced and praised Kaitlyn on her excellent mothering skills. The newborn cub had made its first sound.

When the second cub emerged at 5:39 p.m., the team was over the moon. “We’re so pleased with how well the birth went,” Giles Clark, the “Head of Big Cats”of Australia Zoo, said, per an August 2013 SunshineCoastDaily report. “Kaitlyn is a fantastic first-time mom.”

Our Tiger crew are keeping an eye on our newborns 24/7. Here is head tiger supervisor Giles checking up on one of our…

Posted by Australia Zoo on Sunday, August 25, 2013

After the cubs were weaned from Kaitlyn, Clark took on the role of feeding and training the cubs. “At this time the strong bonds are formed between handlers and cubs to allow us to interact with the tigers for their entire life and provide the long-term enrichment of walks and experiences outside of their enclosures,” he said.

Kaitlyn’s mother was wild, and her father was a captive male. She is extremely valuable genetically to the Sumatran Tiger captive breeding program and is hope for her tiger’s declining population.

Check out one of our new cubs getting a lift with mum! Our beautiful Sumatran tiger Kaitlyn continues to be a wonderful…

Posted by Australia Zoo on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Born on Dec. 12, 2007, Kaitlyn and her sister, Maneki, came to Australia Zoo from a park in Indonesia in 2008. The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving tiger population in the Sunda Islands, located in the Malay archipelago.

“Not only will these cubs ensure the survival of the species in captivity, but they will also provide genetic diversity among captive tiger populations,” said Clark. “The cubs’ wild bloodline is an important factor.”

Therefore, Kaitlyn’s cubs, Hunter and Clarence, serve as ambassadors to help raise funds for the conservation of these exquisite creatures.

Congratulations to Kaitlyn our Sumatran tiger who has given birth to two gorgeous tiger cubs, a girl and a boy! We’re…

Posted by Australia Zoo on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In February 2016, the team was thrilled when the second pair of cubs, named Scout and Delilah, were born to Kaitlyn. The cubs were apparently so cute they were winning hearts wherever they went! “Cubs like these are the insurance protecting tigers from disappearing altogether,” Clark told ABC.

Thank you Australia Zoo for your amazing work on the conservation of Sumatran tigers!

Check out the greatness of a mother’s love in the video: