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Tiger born at San Francisco Zoo delights visitors
March 25, 2013, 05:00 AM By John S. Marshall The

SAN FRANCISCO -- A tiger cub born last month at the San Francisco Zoo delighted visitors over the weekend with her first public appearances.

The 5-week-old Sumatran tiger cub was on view to throngs of admiring zoogoers Saturday and Sunday. Until Saturday, the cub had been kept out of public view so she and her mother could bond.

Long lines formed outside the zoo's Lion House as more visitors than usual came to see the cub, zoo officials said.

The enthusiasm was apparent Saturday, the first day of display, when the crowd gasped as the cub made her appearance. Zoo workers brought her back inside so that she would not be disturbed by the noise.

"The cub needs to be used to the public, so we are not taking the cub out if its nest box if it's not quiet," said Abbie Tuller, a spokeswoman for the zoo.

"It's hard to contain your enthusiasm for such a beautiful and adorable animal," Tuller added.

Because the cub will spend her life in captivity, it's important that she has a relationship with the staff that cares for her, including the veterinarians, said Corinne MacDonald, curator of carnivores and primates at the zoo.

Animal keepers have been working on getting the cub acclimated to humans, while its mother, named Leanne, looks on from a separate enclosure, MacDonald said.

"Lucky for us, Mom is taking care of her more than anyone," MacDonald said.

"We"ll pick up the cub, we'll touch it, maybe hold its paw, so (an exam) not a traumatic event," she said. "We've started the process of bonding with the cub."

The cub spends about 20 hours a day sleeping, so zoo officials set up a live webcam from the nest box with her mother. Eventually, she will be allowed to spend more time on display, zoo officials said.

The cub will be named by the highest bidder at a zoo fundraiser on May 11.

Sumatran tigers, from the island of Sumatra on the Malaysian Peninsula, are classified as critically endangered, zoo officials said.

With a population in the wild estimated to be around 400, their greatest threat is destruction of their habitat, as well as poaching. As of September 2012, 74 Sumatran tigers were in captivity at 27 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium in North America, officials said.



Tags: officials, sumatran, saturday, mother, public, macdonald,

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