More rare tigers born at Great Plains Zoo

The Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls is continuing to produce litters of rare Amur Tiger cubs. Here’s the latest:


2010 is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar and the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is celebrating it in a special way – with a new litter of Amur Tiger cubs.

Six-year-old Amur Tiger “Vika” gave birth to a litter of cubs on March 8. The Zoo’s animal care staff monitored the birth through video cameras and continue to observe the new family around the clock.

“These are important births to our Zoo and to the survival of the entire Amur Tiger population,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo.

Amur Tigers are extremely endangered; fewer than 400 Amur Tigers survive in the wild. The Great Plains Zoo is a key breeder toward the success of Amur Tigers; it now holds nine of only 130 Amur Tigers in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Amur Tigers are just one of 17 endangered species bred at the Zoo, including Snow Leopards, African Bongo Antelope, and Eastern Black Rhinoceros.

Vika and her mate were one of only 26 pairs recommended to breed during 2009-2010. In July 2009, Vika’s first experience giving birth resulted in an unusually large litter of six cubs. Seven-month-old “Callie” is the lone survivor of that litter. She continues to do well, now weighing 107 pounds and eating seven pounds of meat a day. Callie lives in the Asian Cat holding building and can be seen in the Asian Cat exhibit on sunny days when temperatures are above 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just like human newborns, the cubs will spend much of their time sleeping, eating and settling in with their mother. The cubs are expected to be on exhibit, viewable by the public, by mid-summer.

The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with gates closing at 4 p.m. Visit the Zoo online at or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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