Tacoma’s new baby tiger is getting a playmate.
Dumai, the just-named Sumatran cub born Aug. 22 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, was taken from his mother days after he was born because she was inattentive and he wasn’t receiving enough milk.
He has a lot in common with Berani, a 5-week-old Malayan cub who experienced the same treatment at Tulsa Zoo.
That is partly why Berani is being sent to Tacoma on Oct. 10 to be hand-reared with Dumai.
“They will each learn tiger behavior from the other,” said Karen Goodrowe Beck, general curator at Point Defiance and coordinator for the North American Sumatran tiger species survival plan.
Officials said it’s important for the cats to learn from members of their own sub-species rather than only interacting with humans, which has been the case since shortly after the cubs’ births.
Although zoo officials prefer to let nature take its course, the cubs had to be taken away from their mothers for their own well-being. Each was the only cub in a litter, which is rare. Litters usually include two or three cubs.
“The sooner we get the two animals together, the better for their growth and development,” said Kay Backues, senior veterinarian at Tulsa Zoo.
Once Berani arrives and is checked out, he will be placed with Dumai in the cub den where visitors can watch them tumble with each other and be bottle-fed.
Both tigers have been putting on weight as they grow into their future 300-pound frames. Dumai, who was 3 pounds at birth, is pushing 13 pounds. Berani now tops out at 11 pounds, up from 2 1/2 pounds at birth.
Although the cubs are from different sub-species, Goodrowe Beck said they should get along fine.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with as few as 300 living in the wild on the Indonesian island and 74 in accredited North American zoos. There are less than 500 Malayan tigers living in the wild and 54 in accredited North American zoos.
FANS NAME CUB
Voting on a name for Point Defiance’s tiger cub ended Tuesday. More than 9,000 votes were cast, with Dumai getting more than 2,420 votes, or about 26 percent. Satu, which came in second, got 2,165 votes, or nearly 24 percent.