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Swedish zoo cheers rare Siberian tiger cubs

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Swedish zoo cheers rare Siberian tiger cubs
14:45 CEST+02:00
Three Siberian tigers have been born at a wildlife park in western Sweden, the zoo announced on Tuesday, with the striped bundles of fur estimated to be up and running within a few weeks.

"They're soft little stripey things," Christer Larsson, Project Leader at Nordens Ark told The Local.

"And they sound very funny when they're calling for their mother. But they'll grow to be around 300 kilogrammes - even more."

The three tigers, two females and a male each weighing around 2 kilogrammes, were born on Thursday night at the zoo, but caretakers haven't managed to get a clear look at them until now.

"Of course they're extremely cute, just like any small cat, but when they finally open their eyes and you can make eye contact with them - then that will make the difference."

The mother, which has unique genes and is the most important breeding tigers in the world according to Larsson, has only now come out of her den to eat.

Larsson explained that the grandmother of the cubs was probably killed by hunters in Russia.

The tigers, also known as Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), are the largest in the world. The endangered animals hale from the far eastern mountains of Russia where they live in temperatures as low as -50C.

The Swedish wildlife park works with the WWF to help prevent their extinction in the wild, where their biggest killer comes from the demise of their natural habitat.

"If there's a road, then people will come and inevitably chop down the trees, and then the smaller animals start to disappear and the tigers have nothing to eat," Larsson explained.

While reintroduction of the three newborns is not on the cards as yet, the zoo is working to make their natural environment habitable so the reintroduction discussion can be raised.

As for the tiger cubs, they're safest for now at Nordens Ark, and it won't be long until they're on show for the viewing public.

"If you want to see three extremely playful tigers, be sure to visit us in about four or five weeks and all through the summer," Larsson said with a laugh.

"Those little buggers will be running all over the place."

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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