It’s not easy to get clear ultrasound images of a standing, moving tiger.
That’s partly why a newborn Sumatran tiger cub found Wednesday morning in a nest box at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was such a surprise, staff said, even though they had performed several ultrasounds on mother Jaya in the past few weeks.
Jaya’s behavior and hormones also didn’t suggest she was with cub.
But when staff went to give Jaya a physical and ultrasound Wednesday, she had given birth overnight to the 2.5-pound tiger.
Both mom and newborn seemed healthy, according to the zoo.
Staff hadn’t yet determined the cub’s gender.
Sumatran tigers are an endangered species; 74 live in North American zoos and about 250 to 300 live in their native habitat, the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The cub’s father is Malosi, who moved to Point Defiance from Honolulu Zoo last year as part of the Sumatran tiger Species Survival Plan.
Jaya, 9, has had two previous litters. Sons Bima, 3, and Dumai, 8 months, also live at Point Defiance.
Berani, also 8 months, joined the Point Defiance family in October from the Tulsa Zoo as Dumai’s playmate.
The zoo also announced Wednesday that clouded leopard Chai Li is expected to give birth next month, and that harbor seal Qilak is pregnant.
Staff members believe harbor seal Shila is also pregnant, but say she hasn’t been very willing to let them place a probe on her abdomen to check.
When the public will see the new tiger cub depends on how he or she settles into the family.
Dumai was taken away to be hand reared when Jaya became inattentive, and had his public debut about three weeks after his birth.
When Bima was born, he bonded with mom behind the scenes for about two months before the public saw him.
No decisions have been made about how the new cub will be named.