WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - PALM BEACH ZOO TIGER CAM, CLICK HERE
Prowling between palm trees with little black-striped tails swishing behind, the new stars of the Palm Beach Zoo seem too cute to grow up and eat you alive.
The zoo's three newborn Malayan tiger cubs make their public debut on Friday evening to crowds that have waited since May for a first-hand look.
The three cubs on Thursday got a chance to venture outside the indoor enclosure they have called home since birth. They explored the shaded terrain of the outdoor tiger exhibit with their mother, Berapi, keeping watch as zoo staffers, donors and media quietly took a sneak peak.
Other visitors can get their chance to see the cubs at 5:30 p.m. on Friday during the zoo's Safari Nights program, intended to draw crowds during cooler evening visits. After that, the tiger cubs will be back on the prowl on and off during regular zoo hours.
"They are still exploring, they are getting farther away from mom," Assistant Zoo Director Keith Lovett said Thursday as he watched the tiger cubs scratch tree trunks, wade into the water and venture close to the edge of the screened enclosure. "The cubs are thriving … It will be interesting to see how they react to the crowds."
Natives of Malaysia and Thailand, there are only about 500 Malayan tigers left in the wild, where poaching and loss of habitat thins the population.
The cubs were the first tigers born at the Palm Beach Zoo and only the second litter born this year in North American zoos.
The Palm Beach Zoo hopes to breed more tigers. Keeping the current cubs when they reach maturity and adding more requires expansion, according to zoo officials. The new cubs are the centerpiece of an effort to raise $3 million for an expanded tiger exhibit.
Oh, and by the way, it's a boy — times three.
Zoo officials got a closer look at the growing cubs on Thursday and learned they had three boys, not two boys and a girl as once thought.
No names yet for the new cubs. The zoo is offering the chance to name the cubs as part of its fundraising campaign. The zoo plans to hold a naming ceremony by early 2012.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Local News Stories