WICHITA, Kan. - An Amur tiger cub, the first conceived using a new artificial insemination technique, died 36 hours after birth at the Sedgwick County Zoo. The birth of the cub last Sunday also marks the first Amur tiger born at the zoo.Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden scientist Dr. Colleen Lambo performed the minimally invasive procedure on both of the Sedgwick County Zoo's female Amur tigers, Talali and Zeya. Talali became pregnant and gave birth to a single cub about 100 days after insemination.
The cub appeared vigorous at birth and was being cared for by the mother, zoo officials said, but passed away 36 hours after birth, likely due in part to Talali being an inexperienced mother. "We are heartbroken by the loss of the cub,” Dr. Lambo said. "However, we are encouraged by the success of this new AI approach in tigers and will continue working to improve its application in support of tiger conservation."
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for Amur tigers recommended breeding the tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Along with the recommendation came the suggestion of trying laparoscopic artificial insemination with both female Amur tigers. Pending the results of paternity testing, the aforementioned cub may represent the first tiger ever produced using frozen semen.
Records show that single cub litters have lower survival rates than average-sized tiger litters of two to four cubs. Approximately 40 percent of single cub litters do not survive to 30 days.
The Amur tiger is endangered, with approximately 95% of the wild population now confined to the Russian Far East.