Zoo Miami hosts week-long ‘birthday party’ for Sumatran tiger cub

MIAMI (WSVN) - Zoo Miami’s first and only Sumatran tiger cub born at the zoo, Satu, started his week-long birthday celebration on Thursday, and it was quite the party.

Satu celebrated his first birthday at 10:30 a.m. with meaty treats inside his exhibit. Zookeepers surprised the shy tiger with goodie bags filled with meat, giant rubber toys and even a makeshift “birthday cake,” which was a cardboard box complete with a cardboard candle in the center, with, you guessed it, more meat on top.

However, this massive tiger seemed to be no match for the light, cardboard box.

“He didn’t quite live up to his ‘tiger image’ of being a fierce, massive predator, seeing that a piece of moving cardboard scared him,” said Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill.

As the morning went on, Satu curiously walked around and explored his gifts as the growing crowd looked on. The crowd even included first-timers to the zoo, like 3-year-old Mason Pagan, who had never seen a tiger before. “I like him,” he said.

Then, like with any good birthday party, an uninvited guest made an appearance.

“Every party has a party crasher, and that great egret is our party crasher,” said Magill about a great egret that flew into the exhibit to grab some free meat. “He comes in there, he starts taking meat from the tiger — the tiger is going to figure out he’s a tiger one day, and that bird better look out, but, until then, he’s got a lot of free meat.”

The party crasher.
The party crasher.

Satu was born last November at the zoo to mother Leeloo and father Berani, both first-time tiger parents.

Due to their inexperience in parenting, combined with Satu being the only cub in the litter, zoo staff supplemented his feedings in order to make sure he survived his initial months of life.

“He was the only cub born in the litter, and his mother was not producing enough milk,” explained Magill. “Therefore, the keepers had to supplement the feedings by pulling him, giving him a bottle and giving him back to his mother. Thanks to the great work of the staff, they were able to get the mother to accept him back each and every time to get him through that year and have him out here flourishing the way he is. I mean, when he was born, he was around two pounds, and now he’s well over 100 pounds.”

Satu as a little cub. Photo: Zoo Miami.
Satu as a little cub. Photo: Zoo Miami.

Satu is now regularly on exhibit with his mother. Although he is already a hefty guy, Sumatran tigers are the smallest subspecies of tiger, with males reaching up to 300 pounds and females reaching close to 200 pounds.

According to Zoo Miami, there are believed to be less than 70 Sumatran tigers in captivity in the United States, and less than 500 left in the wild. Their biggest threats are habitat loss to palm oil plantations and poaching.

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