Indianapolis Zoo announces Amur tiger cub birth

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The Indianapolis Zoo is celebrating the birth of an Amur tiger cub, but the zoo says it's also a reminder of the need for conservation. The Amur tiger is at risk of disappearing from the wild.

The new cub was born on July 10, 2014, and the zoo announced the birth Tuesday. This is the first cub for tiger mom Andrea, who is six years old. Mother and cub are doing well and will stay in a private indoor area for several weeks to protect the newborn's health. It's not yet known what gender the cub is.

Although Amur tigers (once known as Siberian tigers) are among the world's most intimidating predators, newborn cubs are blind and are completely dependent on their mothers for survival.

With the new cub, the zoo now has four Amur tigers - 7-year-old male Petya, the cub’s first-time father, and 11-year-old female Cila, one of several other tigers born previously at the Zoo.

There were once tens of thousands of tigers in western and central Asia, but poaching and deforestation reduced the population to around 50 by the 1940s. At the moment there are around 500 or less in the wild, living in far east Russia. 155 Amur tigers currently live in Association of Zoos and Aquariums facilities in the United States.

Though the Zoo’s new cub has yet to be named, the public will have the chance weigh in on that decision through a naming poll on the Zoo’s Facebook page. More details will be announced soon.

The Indy Zoo says it supports the conservation efforts of Dr. Linda Kerley and the Amur Tiger Conservation Project, which works to study and protect Amur tigers in the Lazovsky Preserve in Primorsky Krai. Recently, with the help of funding from the Zoo, the ATCP tiger tracking program identified four new litters of cubs in the reserve, a positive sign for this endangered species.