The first cub, a baby girl arrived at 7.45am weighing in at just 1.19kg. Just under an hour later, a second female cub arrived weighing just 1.18kg.
The cubs received their first post-birth health check, a weigh in yesterday and “passed with flying colours” according to Tiger Island Manager, Patrick Martin-Vegue.
“The siblings are bonding well with their mother and spend the day suckling and sleeping, which is normal behaviour during the first few weeks of their development.”
“We are very fortunate our first-time mum has adjusted so well to her new role, she has become the model parent,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
Measuring approximately 30cm in length (head to tail), the cubs and their mother will remain in a quarantine environment for the next couple of weeks to minimise the risk of infection and allow the cub’s immune system’s to strengthen.
Dreamworld guests can view the cubs through closed circuit television monitors positioned at Tiger Island. In the next 2-3 weeks, guests will see them bouncing around their purpose built nursery and then at 6 weeks, walking around the park.
There are 125 Sumatran tigers in 57 institutions worldwide and just 29 within the Australasian regional program. Only 3 Sumatran cubs have been born in the region in the last five years.
Dreamworld is honoured and excited to welcome such an important addition to the family born to Soraya (4 yrs of age) and father, Raja (3 years of age) at Tiger Island.
Commenting on the new arrivals, Dreamworld Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Gregg said the entire team is elated with the news, “the birth of the cubs is indeed a hallmark event for Dreamworld and Tiger Island.”
“This is the very first littler of Sumatran tiger cubs born at Tiger Island. In 1998, we welcomed our Bengal tiger cubs, including the birth of the first white tiger in Australia. Almost a decade later, we celebrate another win for Dreamworld’s tiger breeding program.”
“The primary focus at this point is the health and well-being of Soraya and her cubs, and I’m pleased to report that presently, all are doing well. They will be monitored very closely over the next 48 hours and we will review their progress from there,” Mr Gregg said.
The cubs are under the watchful eyes of Dreamworld’s on-site vet, Vere Nicolson, Tiger Island Manager, Patrick Martin-Vegue and the Tiger Island team which collectively have over 40 years experience caring for and working with tigers.
Andy Goldfarb, former Tiger Island Manager will return to assist Patrick and his team over the next few months. Collectively, the pair have aided the births of more than 130 cubs.
The gestation period for tigers is between 100 to 110 days. The average litter size is between two and four cubs with a record eight reported.
“Fortunately, captive bred cubs have a 90 percent chance of survival because of their stable environment. For cubs born in the wild, the survival rate is just 25 to 50 percent due to poor nutrition, rejection by mothers and predators,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
The Gold Coast’s first Sumatran Tiger, Soraya (meaning Princess) arrived at Dreamworld from Tier Park Zoo in Berlin, Germany on October 30, 2003 as part of The Australasian Species Management Program for Sumatran tigers, internationally recognised and supported by governments throughout the region.
3 Year old Raja (meaning King/Ruler) was selected by the international stud book coordinator for Sumatran tigers as a mate for Soraya and arrived at Dreamworld from Zoo Krefeld in Germany on December 1st, 2005 as part of the international effort to save one of the most endangered species on Earth.
Raja and Soraya live in their purpose built, off-exhibit tiger facility at Tiger Island built to Australian Standards and approved by Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services (AQIS), Environment Australia and inspected by the RSPCA.
Raja and Soraya have the purest blood lines in the Australasian region, and therefore will make an extremely significant contribution to the conservation of Sumatran Tigers in general.
“Soraya is an extremely inquisitive tiger with an easy-going nature. We have certainly developed a great relationship,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
“Raja has also had very limited human contact so is unable to be handled. He’s a little more temperamental and certainly likes to let us know who’s boss.”
With less than 400 left in the wild, Sumatran tigers are listed as one of the world’s most critically endangered species by the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), supported by 190 countries world wide.
Dreamworld’s Tiger Island was nominated as the new home for Soraya and Raja, by the international Species Coordinator for Sumatran and Amur Tigers, Sarah Christie, a leading member of the European Endangered Species Program and Curator for London Zoo.
Ms Christie visited Dreamworld in 2001 and said she based her decision on the park’s existing tiger facilities, expertise, significant conservation efforts and the need to increase the genetic diversity of Sumatran Tigers in the Australasian region.
The importation of Raja and Soraya confirms Dreamworld's commitment to the regional captive management program for this critically endangered species and will allow further engagement with the region's zoos for its long term recovery.
“Our aim is to ensure the appropriate genetic management of the remaining captive population of the species and raise conservation funds to support on the ground initiatives such as educating people within those areas where tigers are found in their natural habitat. This will also provide a safety valve that will prevent the extinction of the species,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
“We are very proud of our ongoing efforts to help save tigers in the wild through donations and on
the ground support,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
“The cubs are another step to help save this magnificent species from extinction. They will be raised here at Tiger Island until they are required by other zoos for breeding.”
Sumatran Tigers are smaller and darker than Bengal tigers. Raja currently weighs about 130 kilograms in comparison to male Bengal tigers who can tip the scales at 230 kilograms.
Dreamworld’s Tiger Island is also home to seven Bengal tigers and two cougars and plays a leading role in tiger conservation world-wide through donations and hands-on involvement with conservation field projects actively saving tigers in the wild.
“Our conservation through education approach at Tiger Island aims to increase public awareness of the grim future faced by tigers in the wild. Soraya’s cubs reinforce Dreamworld’s quest to maintain the survival of this magnificent species,” Mr Martin Vegue said.
In addition to supporting the Sumatran Tiger Program, Dreamworld makes a significant contribution to tiger conservation on a global scale through the park’s Tiger Fund.
To date, Dreamworld has donated over $650,000 to saving tigers in the wild through the Dreamworld Tiger Fund by donating directly to the following programs.
- Flora and Fauna International
- LifeForce Satpura National Park Project India
- 21st Century Tiger (another UK based charity)
- Sumatran Tiger project
- Taman Safari Park
- The Phoenix Fund
Working closely with these organisations, Dreamworld actively contributes to anti-poaching activity including anti-poaching patrols on the ground in Indonesia, India and Russia, Ranger salaries, the purchase of medical equipment and patrol vehicles, intelligence and legal activity.
The money also goes towards regeneration and protection of tiger habitat including village relocation.
A registered zoo, Dreamworld is located on Queensland’s Gold Coast, 25 minutes north of Surfers Paradise and 40 minutes from Brisbane. The park is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day and Anzac Day morning (25/4).