Endangered Sumatra Tiger Born at San Francisco Zoo

Less than 400 Sumatran tigers exist in the wild, according to zoo officials

It's anyone's guess what the sex of the 10-day old Sumatran tiger at the San Francisco zoo is.

That's because no human has been inside the Lion House to see the cub, born Feb. 10 to parents Leanne and Larry. Still photographs taken from the video camera inside the grotto show the striped cub nuzzled against its resting mother.

Zoo spokeswoman Abbie Tuller said the gender of the cub will be revealed in a couple of weeks when a veterinarian goes in for a routine wellness check.

Tanya Peterson, executive director and president of the San Francisco Zoo, said that Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species and the population in the wild is estimated at less than 400.

Zoo officials also pointed to the excellent prenatal care the Mama tiger received. Leanne is one of the  few tigers in the world trained to receive examinations and prenatal sonograms without general anesthesia.

Leanne is a 9 1/2-year-old female Sumatran tiger.  She came to the SF Zoo from the San Antonio Zoo in 2006.  This birth is her second litter; her first was in 2008 when she gave birth to three males, who were transferred to other zoos to participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.  Leanne is named for the late Leanne Bovet Roberts, a former SF Zoo trustee and very generous donor and supporter of animal care organizations.

Larry is a 6-year old male Sumatran tiger that came to the SF Zoo in 2012 on breeding loan from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, with a stop at the Jackson [Mississippi] Zoo in between. This is the first litter he has sired.  He is named in honor of Lawrence Hauben, the late husband of SF Zoo donor Margaret Hauben, who always signed his correspondence, “Love, Larry the tiger.”

This birth represents the first tiger born at the SF Zoo since 2008.  Prior to that, the last litter of tigers born at the SF Zoo was in 1976.

Arguably the best known tiger in the Bay Area was Tatiana, who fatally attacked a young man on Dec. 25, 2007, and was killed by police. But she was a Siberian tiger and has no relation to the new baby cub.

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