Two Sumatran tiger cubs made their public debut Monday at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
The three-month-old cubs, named Sukacita and Bandar, were on exhibit for a little more than an hour and a half, starting about 10 a.m.
“They were out and playful in the yard,” said Annalisa Meyer, a zoo spokeswoman.
Even as visitors were enjoying the cubs’ antics, zoo staffers were dealing with an unusual emergency in a different part of the zoo. A young gazelle was found dead, apparently having sustained fatal injuries when it was spooked by noises from an adjacent enclosure and ran into a barrier wall. The noises were coming from the zebra habitat, where a male zebra had bitten a veteran zookeeper multiple times. The zoo keeper was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Sukacita and Bandar were born to the zoo’s adult female tiger, Dumai, on the evening of August 5. They were her first litter. The cubs will be on public display daily, with the amount of time depending on the weather, zoo officials said.
Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered: Only 400 to 500 exist in the wild. And there are only 65 in accredited zoos in North America.
Before they were cleared to go outside, Sukacita and Bandar, took a swim test to prove they could keep their heads above water and climb onto dry land.
Zoo visitors are still waiting to get their first live glimpse of the new giant panda cub, who was born August 23, less than three weeks after the tigers. The zoo is conducting a naming contest for the panda cub and expects to reveal the winning name Dec. 1, when she will be 100 days old.