BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Officials at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo announced the names of two tiger cubs born at the zoo seven weeks ago.
The two Amur tiger cubs, named Reka and Zeya, were part of a news conference Thursday morning with Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, and Deputy Director Don Goff. The cubs have been cared for at the Beardsley Zoo’s animal health center since their birth seven weeks ago.
The cubs received worldwide attention and national coverage when they were born, due to their endangered status and the rarity of Amur tiger births.
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According the a news release from the Beardsley Zoo, Amur tigers are a critically endangered species rapidly disappearing from the wild, despite their protected status. With only 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, experts say a lack of genetic diversity is cause for concern.
Both of the Zoo’s parent tigers, a male, Petya, and a female, Changbai, are ranked in the top-ten most valuable cats in the Amur tiger population in AZA zoos, due to their genetic diversity. Over the last century, tiger numbers have fallen in total by about 95 percent, and tigers now survive in 40 percent less of the area they occupied just a decade ago.
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Since the start of the 20th Century, three sub-species of tiger have become extinct: the Caspian tiger, the Bali tiger, and the Javan tiger, according to zoo officials.