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Bengal tiger delivers 3 cubs in Myanmar zoo, breast feeding woman on standby


YANGON, Sept 14 (AFP): A rare Bengal tiger whose last litter died has delivered three tiger cubs in a zoo in the Myanmar capital Yangon but an experienced woman is on standby to breast-feed the cubs if needed, a zoo official said Wednesday.
The Thai tiger, Noah, gave birth to the cubs on September 8 after losing her first litter earlier this year.
She killed one in March and the other two died several weeks later from dehydration despite being breast-fed for two weeks by Hla Htay, 40, a relative of a Yangon Zoological Gardens staffer.
"We don't know yet how many female and male tiger cubs are among the three because people are not allowed to go near the tiger mother and her cubs," Saw Win, the zoo's administration officer, told AFP.
"We are paying very close attention and looking after them very carefully because we worry that we may lose the cubs again," he added.
The tiger mother and her cubs are being kept out of public view to increase the chances of the cubs' survival and are being monitored through a closed-circuit television camera, Saw Win said.
"We made the mistake last time of allowing people to see them after she gave birth," he said. Zoo officials believe this frightened the mother and led her to kill one of the cubs.
If Noah kills any of her cubs again, "we'll have to consider again allowing a human mother to breast-feed them," Saw Win said, adding "we are hoping that this will not happen."
Noah Noah's last litter were the first cubs born at the zoo for 16 years. Noah and her mate were among two pairs of tigers sent from Thailand under an animal exchange programme in 2001.
Her first cubs had trouble digesting human breast milk, which combined with Myanmar's grinding summer heat proved fatal, Khin Maung Win, chief veterinarian at the Yangon zoo, said in May.