A pair of amorous amur tigers at the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton could be welcoming cubs into their family later this summer.
The tigers, Alik and Anya, became parents for the first time last year after Anya gave birth to three little ones.
“We've seen them breeding over the last few days and although that doesn't always mean that she's going to become pregnant, there's a really good chance that she would be and we'll know more in the coming weeks,” says zookeeper Jamie Carson.
Handlers will look for signs to confirm pregnancy, such as weight gain, behavioural changes and lack of a cycle in three weeks.
The typical gestation period is 105 days, which means the Magnetic Hill Zoo could be welcoming another litter of tiger cubs in early July. If Anya does become pregnant, the cubs will arrive right in the middle of the tourism season.
Anya’s first round of cubs stayed at the Magnetic Hill Zoo until the end of November before being sent to the Elmvale Jungle Zoo in Ontario.
In exchange for the three tiger cubs, the Elmvale zoo sent eight Caribbean flamingos to Moncton.
“We're going to build an enclosure just across from the education centre. We're going to build a beach so they have a little bit of a beach feel,” says Carson.
Carson says Moncton is one of the few zoos in the country with a mating pair of tigers.
“There's not a whole lot of them that I know of that are actively breeding tigers and that's one of the reasons why we're encouraging or allowing ours to breed at this time,” Carson says.
Carson says they will only allow the amur tigers to be amorous as long as it's responsible to do so.
“We definitely don't want to be producing baby animals that we feel we can't find excellent, qualified homes for,” he said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.