Minnesota Zoo welcomes birth of 2 rare tiger cubs

Newborn tiger cubs with their mother, Sundari (Courtesy: Minnesota Zoo).  (Supplied)

Two rare Amur tiger cubs born last month at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley are being celebrated by conservationists for adding to the species' dwindling population. 

Zoo officials say the cubs, a boy and a girl, were born on May 23, and have been bonding with their mother, Sundari, or Dari for short, in a behind-the-scenes habitat. 

The cubs are expected to be introduced to their public habitat in the late summer or early fall. 

Tiger cubs receive a medical check (Courtesy: Minnesota Zoo). (Supplied)

They were sired by 3-year-old Luka, who arrived at the zoo in 2022. The zoo adds these are his first cubs.

Amur tigers are considered endangered and almost went extinct in the 1930s and 1940s. An estimated 4,500 remain in the wild with only about 500 of those being Amur tigers, according to Minnesota Zoo Director of Animal Care Kurt Heizmann.

"As with her past litters, Dari is demonstrating she is a fantastic mom," said Minnesota Zoo zoologist Trista Fischer.

The Minnesota Zoo said it has been a champion of tiger conservation since opening in 1978 by supporting the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Amur Tiger Species Survival Plan as well as efforts in the wild.

The zoo also co-leads the Tiger Conservation Campaign.