Come see how Cleveland
Metroparks Zoo's twin Siberian tiger cubs have grown. Danya
and Dasha celebrated their first birthday with mother Gaia
on Thursday, April 4, 2002. The cubs received a "meatloaf" birthday cake and other treats.
Danya (male) and Dasha (female) each weighed about 3 pounds
at birth. The tiger "teens" are now 180-pound adolescents.
If a human baby were to grow at this rate, in one year, a
7-pound infant would weigh 450 pounds!
The Siberian tiger is one of five remaining subspecies of
Panthera tigris. Because of poaching and habitat destruction,
there are fewer than 300 Siberian tigers left in the wild
and only 500 in zoos. The twins, Danya and Dasha (both names
mean "gift" in Russian), were born to mother Gaia
and father, Tatja.
striped, and playful, but hear just one growl and you'll know,
these are not your average housecats. Twin Siberian tiger cubs, Danya, a male and Dasha, a
female, were born April 4, 2001at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
This was the first pair of tiger cubs born at the Zoo in sixteen
years. Also on exhibit are the proud parents, five-year old
mother, Gaia, and fifteen-year old father, Tatja,
For two months,
the baby tigers were in seclusion with their first-time mother.
Access to the 'tiger nursery' was limited to give Gaia and
the youngsters an extra measure of security and privacy for
the twins' first couple months of development. Tigers are
born blind and weigh only two to three pounds. They now each
weigh more than 20 pounds.
Gaia, from the
Minnesota Zoo, and Tatja, from the Milwaukee Zoo, were scientifically "computer-matched" by the Species Survival Plan
Committee (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums
(AZA). The SSP strives to perpetuate a healthy and genetically
diverse tiger population through carefully managed breeding.
Gaia arrived in
Cleveland in 1998 and was introduced to Tatja shortly after
he arrived two years later. Breeding occurred last winter
and after a three-month gestation period, Gaia produced her
first two offspring.
The Siberian tiger
is one of five remaining subspecies of Panthera tigris. There
were eight subspecies a mere sixty years ago but the Balinese,
Caspian and Javan subspecies disappeared because of poaching
and habitat destruction. The same fate might await the Siberian,
Bengal, Sumatran, South China and Indochinese tigers, but
the SSP and other conservation organizations have stepped
up their global cooperative efforts to save as many tigers
- Siberian tigers are the largest of the tiger species with females weighing
between 220 to 370 pounds. Males can weigh more than 500 pounds.
- Tiger cubs are
born blind after a 93-110 day gestation period. They weigh
only about 2-3 pounds at birth.
- No one knows exactly
why tigers are striped, but scientists think that the stripes
act as camouflage and help tigers hide from their prey.
- Tiger stripes are
like human fingerprints. No two tigers have the same pattern
- Unlike most cats,
tigers like water and are good swimmers.
- Tigers don't live
in prides like lions. They prefer a solitary life, perhaps
because a single tiger can sneak up and surprise its prey
better than a group of tigers can.
- Like domestic cats,
tiger claws are retractable. Tigers scratch on trees to mark
- Demand for tiger
bone in traditional Asian medicines is pushing the tiger close
to extinction. Poaching and loss of forest habitat threaten
their future. Public support of conservation efforts provides
hope for the future.
- Tiger bone is most
commonly used in Asian countries to treat rheumatism. The
world's remaining tigers would provide, at most, a year's
supply of rheumatism medicine to 125,000 people.
- The estimated population
of Siberian tigers in the wild is 200-300. There are more
than 500 Siberian tigers in zoos.
- The life span of
tigers in the wild is about 10 years. Tigers in zoos can live
twice as long.
- Siberian tigers
tolerate Cleveland's cold, snowy winters quite well as they
are native to the Amur River Valley in Asia. That region's
latitude is approximately the same as lower Canada, and the
weather is similar to Ohio's.
Born May 9, 1996 at Minnesota Zoo
Arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on April 1, 1998
Weight - 300 lbs.
Born March 29, 1986 at Baton Rouge Zoo
Arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on March 24, 2000
Weight - 400 lbs.
Hollywood is famous
for May/December romances but we've got a Catherine Zeta Jones/
Michael Douglas couple right here in Cleveland. Gaia was four
years old when she became a first-time mother to two cubs
on April 4, 2001. The father, Tatja, at fifteen years old
is a senior in the big cat world. At the recommendation of
the tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) committee, Gaia and
Tatja were paired. In typical Hollywood fashion, Tatja has
cubs from several previous mates at two other zoos.
According to Zoo
staff, Tatja is very even-tempered toward Gaia but can get
testy with some zookeepers. And as for Gaia's mothering skills, "she couldn't be better. Everything has gone very smoothly," says Northern Trek zookeeper, Steve Gove.
Their first photo: 2 weeks old
(photo by Travis Vineyard)
Two months old
(photo by Steve Pullen)
1st Day Outdoors
(photo by Casey Batule)
On their first
day in the outdoor exhibit, the male is on the left, female
on the right
(photo by Casey Batule)
Gaia, Dasha & Danya - July, 25, 2001
(photo by Casey Batule)
Photo Safari entry by Tracey Offill 8/29/01
Photo Safari entry by Elaine Lent 8/28/01
Photo Safari entry by Joseph Kacala, 8/1/01
April 4, 2002 - Dasha & Danya enjoy a "birthday meatloaf"