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      Syracuse zoo welcomes baby Amur tigers

      The baby tiger cubs pose for photos / Courtesy: Amelia Beamish

      There are three adorable new additions to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. It was a wonderful Mother's Day present for the mother of the three Amur tiger cubs who were born at the zoo on May 7th, the day before Mother's Day.

      The parents, Tatiana and Toma, welcomed the trio, two boys and a girl.

      "The birth of baby tiger triplets at the zoo is great news," said Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney. "We are glad they are here and look forward to letting everyone see them at the zoo sometime soon."

      The parents were introduced to each other this past December. It's the second litter of cubs for Tatiana. Her first, Korol, Kunali and Naka, were born on June 7, 2004.

      Brothers, Korol and Kunali, now reside at The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, while Naka lives at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, where she has been recommended for breeding.

      "Tatiana is an excellent mother," said Tom LaBarge, curator of animals at the zoo. "With the exception of occasional veterinary health checks, we'll allow her to take care of the cubs without interference."

      The Rosamond Gifford Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, a population management and conservation program that started in 1981. Currently, there are 57 tigers in 149 zoos in North America.

      Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are a critically endangered species. An estimated 300 and 400 Amur tigers remain in the wild. They are found in isolated forests across eastern Asia, in parts of Siberia and China. The species suffers from habitat loss and poaching.

      Here are the early stages of life for the Amur tigers:

      * 11 days old - eyes open* 5 weeks old - begin playing with siblings* 9 weeks old - begin grooming siblings* 10 weeks old - self grooming begins* 13 weeks old -- begin eating meat* 17 weeks old - weaning complete* 2-3 years old - leave mother to begin solitary lifestyle

      The cubs will be weaned and ready to go on exhibit in late August or early September. If you can't wait until then, the zoo is working to provide a live video feed from the cubbing den so you can catch a glimpse of the cubs.