WEST PALM BEACH, FL – May 14, 2020 – Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is thrilled to announce that beloved Malayan tiger Api, gave birth to three healthy cubs. Api and her mate Kadar, are part of the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The SSP® is a cooperative reproduction program that serves as an important backup population for critically endangered Malayan tigers in the wild.
In April, the Zoo announced Api’s pregnancy during a national live broadcast of the Today Show on NBC. With the help of local affiliate stations, the news was repeated throughout the nation.
“This is a tremendous milestone for Api, Kadar, Palm Beach Zoo and the Malayan tiger subspecies. It is cause for a global celebration,” said Margo McKnight, president & CEO of Palm Beach Zoo. “Malayan tigers are critically endangered and number fewer than 200 in the wild. Having a secure backup population at AZA institutions like ours may be the only safeguard for the future of these magnificent creatures.”
A critically endangered status means Malayan tigers will go extinct in the near future if illegal hunting and habitat destruction are not curtailed. Tigers at Palm Beach Zoo also have an important role to play as ambassadors for the greater tiger species. McKnight points out, “The tigers inspire the Zoo’s visitors to act on behalf of wildlife.”
According to Palm Beach Zoo’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Kathleen Woodie, “We are giving Api time to bond with her cubs and watching over her closely 24-hours-a-day via video monitors. Soon with Api’s permission, we will perform a quick health check of the cubs. It is still early, and they have several health milestones they must achieve, and we are optimistic for their continued progress.”
Palm Beach Zoo remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19. The Zoo has been taking enhanced biosecurity precautions in and around the tiger habitat. The zoologists and veterinary staff wear masks, gloves, shoe covers and disinfect all items brought into the area. Even when the Zoo reopens, it may be several months until the cubs are ready to venture into the habitat.
Tiger cubs are born blind and they don’t gain sight for the first few weeks. They spend the first month or so in the den with their mother and will not venture far for several months. The Zoo will provide updates, adorable photos and video via facebook and Instagram (@palmbeachzoo) to keep the community connected with the cubs. An announcement will follow on when the cubs will be visible in in the Henry & Charlotte Kimelman Tiger River and Tiger Falls Habitats sponsored by Braman Motorcars.
Without daily visitors, Palm Beach Zoo was significantly affected by the loss of admission revenue during the temporary closure. Support of the cubs through donations is welcomed on the Zoo website, www.palmbeachzoo.org/cubs.