The 3-month-old Sumatran tiger cub has officially been named... Jillian! On May 11 at our annual fundraiser ZooFest, the Zoo was honored to have award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams auction off the naming rights to the rare cub. Inciting the crowd as only Robin Williams could, the guests responded with excitement, laughter and many generous bids. In the end, long-time Zoo supporter, literary agent and mother of four Jillian Manus won the day with final bid ... and deliberations began about what she should name the cub. Finally, on Mother's Day, her children announced that they'd like to name the cub Jillian, so that someday they might take their children to the Zoo to see their grandmother's tiger. Come to the Zoo to meet Jillian in person!
The cub has access to her outdoor enclosure from 11am-4pm every day. Depending on the cub's feeding and napping schedule, The Lion House will be open from 1-4pm to provide visitors with full access to the adorable duo.
Out of respect for the animals and to support their emotional wellness, the Zoo asks the public to adhere to the following guidelines when viewing the Leanne and the cub:
• Keep voices low; walk and stand quietly.
• Do not bang on the glass of the outdoor enclosure.
• Follow the instructions of Zoo animal staff and security.
• Remain behind the provided barriers.
• If the cub and Leanne are in their nest box, feel free to watch their activity (mostly sleeping and nursing) on the live video feed that has been provided in the Lion House; do not make noises to attempt to wake them or disturb them.
• The Zoo provides no guarantee that Leanne and the cub will be on view during these hours.
• The Zoo reserves the right to close the Lion House at any time in order to provide a safe and peaceful environment for Leanne and the cub.
Since the cub's first exam at about 5 weeks old (pictured below), we’ve been able to conduct brief socialization sessions to get her used to her keepers. As we learned with Leanne’s last litter, she is an extremely attentive mother and allows us in the same space as the cub as long as she is able to watch from an adjoining enclosure.
Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species and the population in the wild is estimated at less than 400, which makes every birth is so significant for these beautiful animals. What makes this birth even more notable is the participation of Leanne in her prenatal care. As part of the SF Zoo’s ongoing wellness program, Leanne is one of the few tigers in the world trained to receive examinations and prenatal sonograms while awake.
Left: Leanne receiving ultrasound Right: Leanne and cub in the nesting box.
The Zoo’s carnivore team of curators, keepers and veterinarians created a special examination bench that allows Leanne to receive medical evaluations and examinations without the need for general anesthesia. Through this set up and with extensive training and food rewards, Leanne received a weekly prenatal ultrasound, and is also trained for injection, vaccination and weight procedures. Leanne was a great student – she learns fast and was very willing to participate in her own care.
Leanne is a nine and a half-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. As we observed during her last litter, Leanne is patient with and attentive to her cub. She's a wonderful mother. 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 six-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. Congratulations Leanne and Larry, and to the dedicated Zoo staff who takes such great care of them.
About Sumatran Tigers
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris) is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN and is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The greatest threat to survival is destruction of habitat, followed by poaching. Currently the wild Sumatran tiger population is estimated at less than 400. As of September 2012, there were 74 Sumatran tigers in captivity at 27 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America.
From the island of Sumatra, off the Malaysian Peninsula, these terrestrial and nocturnal cats inhabit evergreen, swamp and tropical rain forests as well as grasslands. As the smallest of the remaining subspecies of Panthera tigris, the Sumatran tiger is particularly well suited for life in the deep jungle. The fur on the upper parts of its body ranges from orange to reddish-brown, making it darker in color than other tigers. This helps it to hide within its heavily wooded forest habitat. Also unique to this subspecies are distinctly long whiskers, which serve as sensors in the dark, dense underbrush. Males weigh between 200-350 lbs., and females between 180-300 lbs., with a head to body length of 7.2 - 8.9 feet, and a tail length of 2-3 feet. In the wild, the carnivorous Sumatran tigers eat mainly wild pigs and sambar deer. While at the Zoo, the tigers receive fortified horsemeat, chicken and rabbit. Sumatran tigers are usually solitary and prefer to live alone, except for courting pairs and females with young. Females are sexually mature between 4-5 years and give birth every 2-2.5 years. After a 102-112 day gestation, a typical litter of 3 or 4 is born.
Until recently, there were nine subspecies of Panthera tigris. Three subspecies, the Caspian, Bali and Javan tigers, were deemed extinct between the 1940s and 1970s. Estimates to the six remaining subspecies in the wild are as follows (according to IUCN Redlist): Bengal 1,706, Indochinese less than 2,500, Sumatran less than 400, Amur (Siberian) 360, Malayan less than 750, and the South China tiger is thought to be already extinct in the wild. These remaining subspecies are either listed as endangered or critically endangered.
To help conservation efforts for these amazing animals, Adopt a Sumatran Tiger today. During April and May 2013, the Zoo will donate a portion of each adoption sale to the Tiger Conservation Campaign.