Tiger cubs born at Great Plains Zoo

From the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History in Sioux Falls:


The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is pleased to announce the birth of Amur Tiger cubs. 

The births occurred from Saturday evening through Sunday morning.  For six-year-old “Vika”, her first experience giving birth resulted in an unusually large litter of six cubs.  Two cubs were stillborn; a third cub died a few days later, of a ruptured bowel.  The three surviving cubs are doing well, thanks to heroic efforts by the Zoo’s animal care staff.

Zookeepers and the Zoo’s vet tech had monitored the birth through video cameras throughout the night.  It became clear after the last cub was born that, following the strenuous labor, Vika was unable to care for her cubs.  Zookeepers rushed in to dry and warm the newborn cubs, some of them still wet and cold. 

Now, without their mom able to care for them, the Zoo’s animal care staff are on duty 24/7, watching the cubs all night, and feeding them every four hours.  They also massage the cubs, to simulate what a mother Tiger would do with her tongue.

“This is an exciting birth for the Zoo and a significant one for the Amur Tiger population worldwide," 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. There are only 133 Amur Tigers in captivity in Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos in the country.  Vika and her mate were among only 15 pairs recommended for breeding this year – and these three cubs account for half of the Amur Tigers born in the U.S. this year. 

The Tiger cubs will require around-the-clock care and feedings for the next several months. After that, they will be reintroduced into the Zoo’s Big Cat building – and somewhat later, will be out on exhibit and viewable by the public.

The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with gates closing at 6 p.m. Visit the Zoo online at www.greatzoo.org or call 605-367-7003 for more information about the Zoo and Museum. 


The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of our natural world through education, conservation, recreation and discovery. The Great Plains Zoo is an accredited member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) – a leader in wildlife conservation. Fewer than 10% of American zoos and aquariums have met the high standards for AZA accreditation.

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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