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Cuteness overload: Malayan tiger cubs born at the Cincinnati Zoo

Posted at 2:21 PM, Feb 07, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Fiona the baby hippo isn't the only adorable recent addition to the Cincinnati's Zoo.

Three Malayan tiger cubs were born Friday and are now being cared for in the zoo’s nursery.

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First-time mom Cinta’s maternal instincts did not kick in and vets, concerned that the cubs' body temperatures would dip too low without the warmth of mom's body, made the call to remove them from the den, zoo officials said. 

“It’s not uncommon for first-time tiger moms not to know what to do," curator of mammals Mike Dulaney said. "They can be aggressive and even harm or kill the cubs. Nursery staff is keeping them warm and feeding them every three hours.”

The cubs will be cared for in the nursery for now. They will move to Cat Canyon when they’re weaned and no longer need constant care, according to the zoo.

Visitors should be able to see them playing and running around in their outdoor habitat in early spring.

“The three will grow up together," Dulaney said. "They will not be re-introduced to their mom as she would not recognize them as her own after a prolonged separation."

Cinta, 3, is the second most genetically-valuable female in the zoo population, officials there said. The dad, 15-year-old Jalil, is the third most genetically-important male. 

According to the zoo, this combination of lineage gives these cubs the opportunity to contribute much-needed genetic diversity when they eventually receive breeding recommendations from the Malayan tiger Species Survival Plan, the group that manages the health of the population in the 28 accredited zoos that care for this subspecies.

Malayan tigers are endangered with fewer than 500 left in the world. The zoo says major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, fragmentation and poaching.