Tiger Cubs The New Cuties at Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo has two new cuties of the feline variety.

The zoo’s female Sumatran tiger, Sali, gave birth to a pair of cubs earlier this month – believed to be a boy and a girl – in what is a significant achievement for both the species and the popular Hamilton visitor attraction.

“She gave birth on 16 November, but we needed to keep this news under wraps to ensure a stress-free start to motherhood for Sali,” Hamilton Zoo Curator Samantha Kudeweh says.

“For any first-time mother, those first few days are very important, so we kept our distance and just observed what we could.”

Mrs Kudeweh says staff were able to assess the cubs for the first time this week. The male cub weighed in at 2.15 kg, while his sister was slightly smaller at 2.04kg.

“They are fat, loveable, and very strong,” Mrs Kudeweh says. “Like most newborns, they’re noisy and easily tired, but do seem to be doing okay. They have just started opening their eyes and their ears have begun to unfurl.”

Staff will inspect the cubs weekly over the next three months, monitoring their weight gain and general health. The two cubs have different markings on their necks, which is how they will be identified for the next few months.

“Those markings on the napes of their necks may well change over time,” Mrs Kudeweh says.

Mrs Kudeweh says Sali will likely remain extremely protective of her offspring for the first two months of their lives, keeping them in her den. Mrs Kudeweh expects the two cubs to become visible to zoo patrons in late December or early January.

“Once they’re out and about, they’ll demonstrate those traits which make them so loveable – they’ll be adventurous, active, busy, playful and smart.”

The arrival of Oz at Hamilton Zoo earlier this year was planned as part of the Global Species Management plan for Sumatran tigers, with his introduction to Sali intended to result in cubs. The birth of the two cubs is a significant achievement for Hamilton Zoo, and the critically endangered Sumatran tiger species.

“This is career highlight for me and the rest of the team involved,” Mrs Kudeweh says. “It’s very exciting for the zoo and the species.”


• The Sumatran tiger is a rare sub-species of the tiger. • The species is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and the gradual decline in its population is attributed to human activity, particularly impacts on their natural forest habitat. • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates only 500 of the animals live in the wild.


• Hamilton Zoo is wholly owned by Hamilton City Council. 
• Located on the city’s western outskirts, it is home to more than 600 animals, and covers a 25-hectare site.
• The zoo has a focus on sympathetic conservation of rare species, and is involved in a number of conservation breeding programmes.


• For video footage of Sali and her cubs in their enclosure, click here 
• Still images of the cubs are available on request.



NAME: Samantha Kudeweh
DESIGNATION: Hamilton Zoo Curator
TEL (DIRECT): 021 033 6187
EMAIL: samantha.kudeweh@hcc.govt.nz

NAME: Jeff Neems
DESIGNATION: Communication Advisor
TEL (DIRECT): 07 838 6509
MOBILE: 021 818 564
​EMAIL: jeff.neems@hcc.govt.nz