Three of the world’s rarest tigers have been born at Flamingo Land Zoo near Malton, and this week took their first steps into the outside world.
The Sumatran Tiger cubs - two females and a male - are the first baby tigers to be born at the zoo in over 20 years.
With recent estimates suggesting that the world population of Sumatran Tigers is now as low as 400, zoo manager Ross Snipp has spoken of his pride at Flamingo Land helping to bring about a near one per cent increase in the species’ numbers.
Mr Snipp told The Scarborough News: “It was a fantastic feeling when the cubs were born, a real sense of joy.
“As a zoo, it doesn’t get much better than breeding a critically endangered species. This is what we are here for.
“This has been seven years in the making and we are very proud to have delivered three healthy cubs.”
On Wednesday, the cubs were released into their outside enclosure for the very first time.
At just eight weeks old, they are still very much in their infancy and still dependent on their mother for food.
Mr Snipp added: “The cubs are still tiny compared to the size they will grow to and only weigh around seven kilos.
“At this stage they are still feeding from their mother but over the last few weeks have learnt to move independently and they are now all very active.”
The trio, who are as yet unnamed, were born to Surya, (their mother) and Bawa.
The pair arrived at Flamingo Land in 2010 in the hope that they would produce offspring as part of a worldwide conservation effort to save the Sumatran Tiger from extinction.
Mr Snipp continued: “These cubs are now the future of the European breeding programme. In 18 months time they could be transferred anywhere in Europe and hopefully paired with a suitable mate to continue the breeding process.”