Los Feliz News
Head Trauma Kills L.A. Zoo Tiger Cub
By Daniel Antolin
Sep 13, 2011 - 11:16:14 PM

Two of three Sumatran tiger cubs. Photo courtesy of L.A. Zoo
LOS FELIZThe Los Angeles Zoo announced on Tuesday, September 13 that one of three male Sumatran tiger cubs, all of which were born in early August, passed away due to what an autopsy indicated was trauma sustained to the head.

Zoo officials, who discovered the dead tiger cub one day prior on September 12 during a routine check, have not yet determined how the cub was injured, said L.A. Zoo spokesperson Leinani Bernabe in a news release.

Bernabe told Canyon News that the cub, which was one month and seven days old, died the night before when no one was around to monitor the cubs. 

"Every birth of these tigers in a zoo is significant and not without risk," the L.A. Zoo website states. "The L.A. Zoo takes several precautions including regular veterinary check-ups and keeping the animals off exhibit until they are large enough to navigate the outdoor tiger habitat."

Lulu, the cub's mother, will be allowed to continue to raise her remaining two cubs off-exhibit until they can make their debut to the world in December, as originally planned. She previously raised five other cubs from two litters in 2005 and 2007. Two cubs were born into the first litter, and three were born into the second litter.

"While the loss of this cub is unfortunate, we plan to continue to share the growth of the two cubs with our community until they are introduced to their exhibit. I hope you’ll share the adventure with us," Zoo Director John Lewis said.

The L.A. Zoo praised the birth of all three cubs on August 6 and announced that staff would post photos and updates online of their development, as they would not be allowed to be on exhibit until they were stronger.

Sumatran tiger cubs are completely dependent on their mother for food during their first 18 months and have bad eyesight during their first few weeks. Zookeepers recently reported that their eyes, which went from having hints of blue to a more faded color, were gradually improving.

Their birth was described an "important milestone" in preserving the Sumatran tiger species, which is endangered as a result of poaching, violent conflicts with villagers who live near their natural environment and habitat loss.

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