Three Amur tiger cubs born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in March are set to make their public debut today in the tiger habitat in the zoo’s Asia Quest region.

They will be on view from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily as conditions allow.

During the past two months, the cubs, Metis (male), Callisto (female) and Elara (female) have been growing bigger and stronger in a behind-the-scenes denning area with their mother, Irisa, according to zoo officials. The cubs are named after Jupiter’s moons as their father’s name is Jupiter.

“We are thrilled that the tiger cubs are healthy and strong and ready to explore the tiger habitat,” said President/CEO Tom Stalf. “Amur tigers are critically endangered and we are happy the species has grown by three with this litter.”

The tiger is the largest of all cat species. Native to Asia, there are six living and three extinct subspecies of tiger. Currently there are fewer than 150 Amur tigers in 49 AZA institutions in North America. These tigers are considered pedigreed since they have a known ancestry and breeding recommendations to maintain genetic diversity are managed by a studbook.

Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), also historically referred to as Siberian tigers, are critically endangered; fewer than 400 individuals are believed to exist in the forests of the Russian Far East, zoo officials said. Their populations are dwindling due to overhunting of prey species such as deer and wild boar, habitat loss, and poaching for skins and body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine. Humans directly cause 75 to 85 percent of tiger deaths, officials said.

The Columbus Zoo in Powell is a long-term supporter of the Siberian Tiger Project which was established in 1992 by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The zoo’s privately raised funding contributes to improving human-tiger conflict mitigation, increasing capacity for young Russian scientists, and biological monitoring of tigers through camera trapping, track surveys and radio collaring, officials said.

Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by the Columbus Zoo.