*Cute animal klaxon sounds*
It was no doubt with great pleasure that Toronto Zoo announced that, following a 104-day pregnancy, their resident tiger Mazyria (affectionately known to zoo staff as Mazy) recently gave birth to three cubs. The spud-like newborns bring Mazy’s offspring to six individuals, as she previously gave birth to three cubs back in 2013 at Granby Zoo, Canada. The newest members of the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) family arrived overnight on April 30, 2021, and all are reported to be doing well.
To give them a little privacy and ensure they don’t disrupt any caregiving and bonding behaviors, the team at Toronto Zoo is using remote cameras to monitor the health of mum and babies. This compromise comes at the benefit of everyone, as the day-to-day goings-on of Mazy and her little potato babies is available for your viewing pleasure in the video below. In the clips, Mazy can be seen dutifully tending to her motherly duties and grooming her tiny babies (even if she does occasionally knock them over – balance is no easy thing when you’re but a wee, stripy lump).
The first month is a critical time for newborn cubs and so zoo staff will – if possible – avoid any contact with the babies until their first veterinary checkup at around six to eight weeks. This means their sexes, for now, remain a mystery (but please no more disastrous reveal stunts).
As well as smashing motherhood, it seems Mazy is smashing records, too, having been one of the oldest Amur tigers to give birth in the Species Survival Plan population at 14 years old. The Species Survival Plan Program was developed in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, many of which are threatened or endangered in the wild. They match up breeding pairs across the globe to conserve genetic diversity, which is how Mazy came to meet the newborns’ father, Vasili.
“This birth is an important contribution to a genetically healthy Amur tiger population,” said Dolf DeJong, Chief Executive Officer at Toronto Zoo in a statement. “Amur tigers are under increasing pressure due to habitat loss and illegal hunting. It is important to educate the public on their plight in the wild and do everything we can to mitigate the threats they face and halt declining populations. Together we can make a positive difference!”
While there are less than 500 Amur tigers thought to remain in the wild, the species has recently seen an improvement in their conservation status, downgrading from Critically Endangered to Endangered, as per the IUCN Red List. In the 1930s, there were thought to be just 20-30 animals due to threats including hunting and habitat loss.
You can find out what critical wildlife conservation work is being done for endangered Amur tigers like Mazy and how you can support it here.