Zoo Watch: Tiger cubs smash open piñatas to celebrate their first birthday at Whipsnade Zoo
PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 June 2019
Three tiger cubs celebrated their first birthday at Whipsnade Zoo with colourful piñatas stuffed full of their favourite treats.
The endangered Amur tiger cub trio received the surprise from their zookeepers on Wednesday, June 19 as they celebrated their first birthday with a piñata in the shape of the number one.
Dmitri, Makari and Czar were born to mum Naya and dad Botzman just over a year ago.
It is the first in a week full of birthday surprises for the cubs, which will culminate in them getting huge gift boxes full of their favourite foods at the Zoo's Sunset Safari event on Saturday, June 22.
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Team leader Donovan Glyn said: "To have three endangered Amur tiger cubs, growing into strong, healthy males, is something to really celebrate, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.
"A piñata is the perfect party game for a tiger cub, because they love to explore new things and practice their pouncing skills. They wasted no time in tearing off the paper to get to the good stuff!"
The birth of the cubs in 2018 was a huge success for the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.
Donovan added: "It's been a wonderful year watching them grow and develop - not only for us, but for all the visitors who came to see them. There's been incredible interest in them from day one, so I know many visitors will be excited to see them open their birthday presents at Sunset Safari."
Amur tigers are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Due to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.