Sumatran Tiger Cubs Make Public Debut at National Zoo

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A female Sumatran Tiger cub named Sukacita is dried off by biologist Leigh Pitsko after performing the cub performed her 'swim test' in a moat of the Great Cats exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A female Sumatran Tiger cub named Sukacita is dried off by biologist Leigh Pitsko after performing the cub performed her ‘swim test’ in a moat of the Great Cats exhibit at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The National Zoo’s Sumatran tiger cubs are on public display for the first time Monday.

The two cubs, Sukacita and Bandar, were allowed in the tiger yard for about an hour Monday morning. The zoo said the cubs will be on public display in the tiger yard every day, weather-permitting, but the cubs’ time in the yard will be limited due to their young age.

The zoo’s adult female Sumatran tiger, Damai, gave birth to the two cubs on Aug. 5.

PHOTOS: National Zoo Tiger Cubs Pass Swim Test

Before being allowed out in the yard with their mother, the cubs had to prove that they could adequately swim the enclosure’s moat. The 3-month-old cubs passed the swim test Nov. 6.

“Tigers are one of the few species of cats that enjoy taking a dip in water,” said Craig Saffoe, the zoo’s curator of Great Cats.

“The moat exists for the safety of our visitors, but it could present an obstacle for young cats. Our job is to make sure that if the cubs venture into the moat, they know how and where to get out. These cubs represent hope for their critically endangered species’ future, so we need to take every precaution to ensure their survival.”

Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that between 400 and 500 exist in the wild.

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