PHOTOS: Four rare tiger cubs born at Columbus Zoo

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium welcomed four Amur tiger cubs to their family March 22 and 23.

The cubs are being monitored by zoo staff using a remote feed mounted in their den where the cubs mother, Mara, is caring for them, according to a press release. Newborn cubs weigh around 2 or 3 pounds.

“As this time Mara is taking excellent care of the cubs and all are nursing,” said Adam Felts, assistant curator. “We are cautiously optimistic about the survival of all four cubs.”

As long as the mother continues to care for the cubs, it could be days before veterinarians will be able to perform a health check and determine gender.

The litter of Amur tigers is the Zoo’s second ; the first litter was born in June 2012. Both litters were given birth my Mara, a 6-year-old, and Foli, a 10-year-old. Zoo staff hand-reared the first pair after a storm interrupted their ability to monitor the cubs care.

Native to Asia, there are six living and three extinct subspecies of tiger. Currently, there are fewer than 150 Amur tigers in 50 Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Zoos in North America. These cubs are considered pedigreed since they have a known ancestry and breeding recommendations to maintain diversity are managed by a studbook, according to the Zoo.

Amur tigers, also historically referred to as Siberian tigers, are critically endangered; fewer than 500 individuals are believed to exist in the forests of the Russian Far East.

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