FORT WORTH -- There are fewer than 550 Malayan tigers in the world but you don’t have to travel half way around the world just to see one.
The Fort Worth Zoo introduced a new litter of female Malayan tiger cubs Thursday. The three cubs were born at the zoo on April 28 and have been living off-exhibit in a private den with their mother, who also gave birth to cubs here in 2000 and 2003, officials said.
The difference in Thursday’s debut boils down to a little DNA. This species had been categorized and exhibited as the Indochinese tiger until earlier this year when genetic testing showed the tigers were actually Malayan.
The cubs will remain in Fort Worth until they are 2 years old and then be transferred to another zoo. They’ll grow to more than 6 feet long and weigh up to 220 pounds and in the wild would live on a diet consisting of deer, wild boar, and wild cattle.
Now, however, all their 14-pound bodies require daily are 6 to 8 ounces of low-grade hamburger and a little mother’s milk. They were a little shy Thursday, but officials don’t expect that to last long.
“As they get used to the exhibit we expect them to put on a great show for our patrons. These tiger cubs are very active,” said Ron Surratt, the zoo’s director of animal collections.
■ One of six tiger subspecies
■ 490 adults in the wild
■ 45 in American zoos
■ Critically endangered
Source: Fort Worth Zoo