Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Rare Sumatran tiger born at National Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoo's Sumatran tiger population increased by one on Tuesday afternoon, when 8-year-old Damai gave birth to a cub.

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, and it's estimated there are just 300 to 400 living in the wild. Her keepers have been watching Damai via closed-circuit cameras since she went into labor, and the cub looks to be nursing, moving, and breathing normally, the National Zoo said in a statement. "This is such an exciting time for us, not only because we have a cub who appears to be doing great, but also because this animal's genes are extremely valuable to the North American population," Craig Saffoe, curator of the Great Cats habitat, said. "Now that we have had success breeding Damai this year and in 2013, it means that our keepers' patience with the introduction process, their willingness to study the cats' behaviors and learn from them, and our discussions with colleagues here and at other institutions has paid off. The result is this amazing little cub."

The pair are being left alone so they can bond, and it will be a few weeks before veterinarians will be able to inspect the cub and determine its sex. The cub won't be on view until it goes through several health exams, receives vaccinations, and passes a swim test; in the meantime, National Zoo visitors can still see the cub's father, Sparky, and her half-brother, Damai's 3-year-old son Bandar. Catherine Garcia