Rare Tiger Born: Endangered Sumatran Tiger Leanne Gives Birth To Cub At San Francisco Zoo

By Jason Van Hoven on February 15, 2013 11:52 AM EST

Rare Tiger Born
A rare Sumatran tiger named Leanne is shown sleeping beside her newborn cub. (Photo: Reuters)

A rare tiger was born over the weekend as 9-year-old endangered Sumatran tiger named Leanne gave birth to a cub at the San Francisco Zoo, according to reports.

Sumatran tigers are rare. In the wild, there are estimated to be as few as 400. As a result, zookeepers were monitoring Leanne and her cub in the zoo's secluded Lion House via webcam to allow the two to bond with little human interference.  

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"All signs seem to be positive so far," said Corinne MacDonald, San Francisco Zoo curator of carnivores and primates. "Mom and cub are bonding."

MacDonald added that the unnamed rare tiger born appeared to be healthy, active and eating a lot.

The rare tiger born was the second tiger born at the San Francisco Zoo in 35 years. Leanne previously delivered a litter of three males, and this is the first since 2008. The three cubs were transferred to zoos across the United States.

San Francisco Zoo staff will not know the gender of the rare tiger born until its first examination at least two weeks from now.

About 75 Sumatran tigers are in captivity in North America and give birth to two to four litters a year, according to Dr. Tara Harris, a tiger specialist with the North American accrediting group Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The rare tiger was fathered by a 6-year-old tiger named Larry, who was temporarily transferred from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans for breeding. The rare tiger will stay at the San Francisco Zoo for a year and a half before zookeepers decide whether to transfer it.

Sumatran tigers -- the smallest of six tiger subspecies -- are only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in lowland and mountain forests and are endangered mainly because of habitat destruction and poaching.

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