National Zoo welcomes rare Sumatran tiger cub

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Zoo is celebrating after the arrival of a new member to a critically endangered species, the Sumatran tiger.

The tiger cub was born to mom Damai, 8, and dad Sparky, 13. Zookeepers watched the birth on a closed-circuit camera, and have continued to monitor the cub. They don't know its sex yet, since they're giving it time to bond with Damai.

Damai last had a male cub named Bandar in 2013.

“This is such an exciting time for us, not only because we have a cub who appears to be doing great, but also because this animal’s genes are extremely valuable to the North American population,” said Craig Saffoe, curator of the Great Cats habitat. “Now that we have had success breeding Damai this year and in 2013, it means that the keepers’ patience with the introduction process, their willingness to study the cats’ behaviors and learn from them and our discussions with colleagues here and at other institutions has paid off.”

Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that between 300 and 400 exist in the wild.