Three male Amur tiger cubs were born at the Columbus Zoo on April 21, weighing just 2.5 lbs. each.

The cubs are being hand reared after the female failed to show maternal care and nurse them. But the cubs are “thriving” in the Animal Health Center’s incubator.

“We are always cautiously optimistic about the survival of fragile newborns,” said President and CEO Tom Stalf. “But the cubs seem to be thriving under the 24-hour care provided by our animal specialists and veterinarians.”

These are the first cubs for ten-year-old female, Irisa, although the Zoo team and the Tiger Species Survival Plan had hoped for years she would reproduce and pass on her valuable genes. This is the third litter sired by eleven-year-old, Foli, since 2012.

With the addition of the three cubs there are currently 10 Amur tigers at the Columbus Zoo including four cubs born in 2013 and their mother, Mara.

Amur tigers, also historically referred to as Siberian tigers, are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 individuals believed to exist in the forests of the Russian Far East.

Currently there are fewer than 150 Amur tigers in 50 certified zoos in North America. These tigers are considered pedigreed since they have a known ancestry and breeding recommendations to maintain genetic diversity are managed by a studbook.

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