Zolushka rescued Amur tiger, has first cubs in the wild

The world of animal rescue has good news for the New Year: the first rehabilitated Amur tiger has given birth in the wild. © Bastak

Reflecting back on 2015, I am proud of all we have accomplished for animals this year. We have rescued puppies from a crumbling shelter in Bosnia, fed orphaned elephants in Zambia, responded to the disastrous earthquake in Nepal, helped injured owls, falcons and hawks in China, rehabilitated baby bears in Russia and saved dolphins and seals on Cape Cod. And right when we were about to wind down for the year - something amazing happened.

The Amur (Siberian) tigress we released in 2013 had given birth to two cubs. And what is even better; we have camera trap photos and video to prove it. Watch Zolushka and her cubs playing here.

Zolushka is not simply any tiger. She is one of the most well-known wild tigers in the world, but you may not know her story began with heartbreak. She and her brother were found orphaned after their mother was likely killed by poachers. Frostbitten and malnourished, the small cubs were only a few months old. Her brother was too weak and unfortunately did not survive. Against all odds, Zolushka, which means Cinderella in Russian, pulled through and only lost a bit of her tail to frostbite. With partners in Russia, the International Fund for Animal Welfare was able to rescue, rehabilitate and release her back to the wild. Zolushka is now the first rehabbed Amur tiger to give birth in the wild

Zolushka comes from a species of only 562 individuals. Each tiger is essential for the survival of this endangered species and her two new cubs double the population in the Bastak Nature Reserve where they are now roaming along with the lone adult male Zavetnyi. Although this area is historical tiger habitat; Amurs have not been seen here in years making this family’s survival even more important. 

A camera trap captures Zolushka in the wild. © Bastak

Winter is settling into Far East Russia and Zolushka now has two more mouths to feed. As a first time mother, she will hopefully be able to keep her growing youngsters safe and healthy. Along with the global conservation community, we are rooting for Zolushka.

--KB

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