Leeuwarden, 22 June 2023 – Four Amur tiger cubs have been born at AquaZoo Leeuwarden. It’s the first time the Friesland, Netherlands, Zoo has welcomed baby tigers.
The foursome was born early in the morning of June 15. “The birth of youngsters is always very special. You hope for it, but when it happens, it is very special,” says chief animal caretaker William Kreijkes. “And the fact they are quadruplets — we never dared to dream that. So far it is going really well with both the cubs and the mother. It is always exciting how it will continue, but for now it looks looking good.”
Mother and babies are currently indoors. According to Kreijkes, it is very difficult to predict when they will go outside. “The cubs still have their eyes closed. They will open first in the coming days. Then we have to wait and see: the animals can decide for themselves whether and when they will explore the outdoor enclosure.”
The Amur tiger, which occurs in the basin of the river of the same name on the border of China and Siberia, is seriously endangered in nature: only a few hundred animals are left in nature. The greatest threat is humans. They are hunted a lot by poachers for traditional Asian medicine, among other things. In addition, the habitat is becoming smaller due to forest fires and logging. In the last hundred years, no less than 93 percent of the habitat of these animals has disappeared.
That is why European zoos have a management program with the aim of preserving this species and ensuring a healthy population in the parks. These animals are also not owned by the zoos, but by the management programs. There is a coordinator for each species who determines which animals are allowed to mate and where any youngsters go. No money is involved in this.
“So zoos cannot buy or sell animals,” explains Kreijkes. “If you want a certain animal as a park, you really have to demonstrate that you can take good care of the species and that you meet all the requirements.”
Brand new residence
As part of last year’s program, AquaZoo welcomed the two adult tigers to the brand new, more than five thousand square meters large enclosure, consisting of caves, hills, climbing trees and a watercourse. The female Aïda comes from Safaripark Beekse Bergen and the male Vadim comes from Sosto Zoo in Hungary. “There was a demand for an extra location to shelter tigers. We really wanted to contribute to the conservation of this species, so we are very happy with the arrival of these four cubs,” says general manager Jeroen Loomeijer. “It is extra special that they were born in the year that we celebrate our twentieth anniversary. We could not have wished for a nicer gift.”
AquaZoo also contributes to supporting tigers in the wild. The zoo helps the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) through the Wildlife Foundation. This society is committed to the Amur tigers, among other things.
For example, WCS has set up a program to combat poaching in officially protected areas. For example, they track down poachers and talk to one of the largest logging companies about closing roads that have been built to transport wood. These roads go right through the habitat of this species, making it easier for poachers to enter areas. Nine of these logging roads have already been closed.
Autor Andrew Bleiman