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Category: Big Cats

Your morning adorable: African lion cubs make their debut at Berlin Zoo


We have ceased to be surprised when Germany's Berlin Zoo debuts adorable baby animals. We've seen it so many times before -- with wolf pups, moose calves, jaguar cubs, caracal kittens, a black rhinoceros calf and more -- that we sometimes have to simply shake our heads and marvel at the cuteness of it all. But seeing the zoo's youngest, most adorable residents never gets old.

This time around, the Berlin Zoo has introduced two African lion cubs, Nathan and Miron, to the baby-animal-loving world. The cubs were born Aug. 26, and zoo staff began bottle-feeding them when it became clear that they weren't getting enough nourishment from their mother. Since then, they've grown a great deal -- the zoo reports that they've quadrupled their birth weight.

African lions cubs like these guys don't become fully mature until they're about 3 to 4 years old. When fully grown, little Nathan and Miron won't be anywhere close to little any more -- they're likely to weigh 400 pounds or more and measure about 6 feet in length (not counting their tails).

See more photos of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Birth of rare Sumatran tiger cub surprises keepers at the Frankfurt Zoo


At Germany's Frankfurt Zoo, there was both great celebration and great surprise last month when a female Sumatran tiger named Malea gave birth despite the fact that zoo staff believed her to be infertile. "It looks like the last [fertility] treatment was a success," zoo director Manfred Niekisch told Agence France-Presse. "It is not that unusual that a pregnancy goes undetected in a big cat."

Sadly, only one of Malea's twin cubs, a female keepers named Daseep, survived, and Malea rejected her. Zoo staff have been raising Daseep by hand, although they plan to introduce her later this month to an Amur tiger cub at another German zoo who was also rejected by her mother. "This is important so that both tigers can get on with others belonging to their own kind in the future and hopefully start a family of their own," Niekisch told AFP.

Sumatran tigers are endangered in the wild; only about 400 are believed to remain in their native habitat. Prior to Daseep, the Frankfurt Zoo hadn't had a successful Sumatran tiger birth in 26 years.

See more photos of the cub after the jump!

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Panthers imported from Texas help endangered Florida panthers begin to bounce back

FloridaPanther2WASHINGTON — In the quest to save the endangered Florida panther, their Texas cousins were the cat's meow.

Wildlife biologists moved eight female panthers from Texas -- close relatives yet genetically distinct -- into South Florida 15 years ago in hopes of boosting reproduction, and the immigration paid off.

Now scientists have created an astonishingly in-depth family tree of today's panthers to prove the genetic mixing not only left a bigger population but a healthier one -- offering support for this type of conservation as biologists struggle to save pockets of rare species the world over.

"Our results have shown you can have a positive impact on these endangered populations by doing this genetic restoration," said study co-author David Onorato, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Indeed, many of the world's remaining lions and tigers live in very small groups where inbreeding may threaten their health just like it threatened the Florida panthers, and might benefit from similar "genetic rescues," said Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University. He wasn't part of the new study but has separately tracked the panther program.

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Colorado wildlife officials say their effort to reintroduce the lynx is a success


DENVER — Colorado wildlife officials declared victory Friday in their 11-year effort to reintroduce lynx to the state, saying the cats are reproducing faster than they're dying, a sign of a self-sustaining population.

Colorado's native lynx died out in the early 1970s because of trapping, poisoning and development.

The state Division of Wildlife began reintroducing them in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado by releasing lynx that were captured in Alaska and Canada.

By 2006, 218 lynx had been brought in and equipped with tracking devices on collars, so researchers could monitor their movements.

The first kittens born to the transplanted lynx were documented in 2003, and third-generation cats were first found in 2006.

At least 141 have been born in Colorado, including 14 this year.

No estimate is available for the state's total lynx population, partly because these animals live in remote wilderness areas. No more releases are planned.

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Key breeding grounds must be protected to save tigers from extinction, researchers say

BengalTiger JAKARTA, Indonesia — Conservationists must protect tiger populations in a few concentrated breeding grounds in Asia instead of trying to safeguard vast, surrounding landscapes, if they want to save the big cats from extinction, scientists said.

Only about 3,500 tigers are left in the wild worldwide, less than one-third of them breeding females, according to one of the authors of the study, John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Much has been done to try to save the world's largest cat -- threatened by over-hunting, habitat loss and the wildlife trade -- but their numbers have continued to spiral downward for nearly two decades.

That's in part because conservation efforts are increasingly diverse and often aimed at improving habitats outside protected areas, according to the study, published in Tuesday's issue of the peer-reviewed PLoS Biology journal.

Instead, efforts should be concentrated on the areas where tigers live -- most are clustered in just 6% of their available habitat -- and especially where they breed.

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Your morning adorable: Asian lion cubs debut at Switzerland's Zurich Zoo

Asian lion cubs

Two-month-old Asian lion cubs Kuwam, Kalika, Keladi and Kanya made their big debut at Switzerland's Zurich Zoo on Wednesday.

The cubs' names were chosen from more than 1,300 suggestions submitted by members of the public, according to the zoo.

The cubs are the second litter for their mother Joy (who gave birth to twins Jeevana and Jasraj last February), and their birth is a big deal for their species, which is endangered in the wild.

Asian lions (also called Indian lions, Persian lions or Asiatic lions) once roamed a large swath of territory that extended from India to the Middle East. Now, only a few hundred remain in the wild, all of which live in a single wildlife preserve in India's Gir Forest.

See more photos of Kuwam, Kalika, Keladi and Kanya after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: What's rarer than rare? A black Amur leopard cub

Black Amur leopard cub

June was a big month for a critically endangered species: the Amur leopard. Only a few hundred Amur leopards remain worldwide -- that's including both wild and captive animals  -- but that number increased a bit when several Amur leopard cubs were born in German zoos in June.

One of those cubs is this little guy, named Paulchen Panther, who was born at the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany, on June 13. As you can see, he's black, which puts him in stark contrast to his normally patterned twin sister and just about every other Amur leopard out there.

Keepers at the Serengeti Park say they're raising little Paulchen by hand because his family members rejected him, a reaction they attributed to his unusual coat.

Habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching have driven Amur leopards nearly to extinction; fewer than 40 are thought to remain in the wild in Russia, with an even smaller population remaining in China.

Another Amur leopard -- yup, featuring the typical spotted coat -- was born in Leipzig in late June.

See more photos and a video of Paulchen Panther after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Endangered Amur tiger cub makes her debut at Nebraska zoo

Siberian tiger cub

At the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, visitors have been clamoring to see an Amur tiger cub that made her public debut last week.

The cub, which hasn't yet been named, was born June 22 at the zoo. She's the first cub born there for mother Tiksi and father Yorgi. She weighed less than 5 pounds at birth, but as an adult is likely to weigh about 300!

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are the largest existing tiger subspecies. They're endangered, and the Henry Doorly Zoo is one of a number of zoos worldwide that are participating in a breeding program to save the species. A U.S. zoo, the Erie Zoo in Erie, Penn., is home to a male Amur tiger cub named Yuri.

See more photos of the Henry Doorly Zoo's cub after the jump!

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Zoo official issues dire warning about the treatment of animals at Indonesia's Surabaya Zoo

JAKARTA, Indonesia — All of the animals at Indonesia's largest zoo -- many of them critically endangered -- could be dead within five years unless strong action is taken to change the culture of neglect and corruption that permeates the facility, a zoo official said Saturday.

An endangered Sumatran tiger was found dead Saturday morning in its cage at the Surabaya Zoo, spokesman Agus Supangkat said.

The remaining 13 Sumatran tigers are being kept in dirty, cramped cages and are also at great risk, said Tonny Sumampouw, the chairman of the country's zoo association who has been tasked with overseeing the facility after the government took it over earlier this year.

In recent days, an African lion and an Australian kangaroo also have died, Sumampouw said.

He said hundreds of animals die every year at the zoo, and others suffer from hunger, stress and overcrowding. The 94-year-old facility was built under Dutch colonial rule on a 37-acre plot of land and currently holds 4,200 animals.

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Your morning adorable: controversial baby ligers in Taiwan

baby ligers born in Taiwan

When they were referenced in the 2004 quirky comedy "Napolean Dynamite," most people thought ligers were fictional creatures. But as we have learned since then, not only are they very real animals that can grow up to 12 feet long, but because they're a cross between a male lion and a tigress, they can sometimes be deadly.

These two newborn ligers are currently just dangerously cute cubs from an African lion named Simba and a Bengal tigress named Beauty. But their birth Sunday at a private Taiwanese zoo was met with controversy that could result in a possible fine.

The Taiwan News is reporting that a local animal rights group, Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan, is asking the government to fine the zoo operator, Huang Kuo-nan, for illegally cross-breeding two protected species in order to produce the rare cats.

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