A rare tiger cub who was rejected by her own mother at the Philadelphia Zoo has found a new home and a foster mom at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.
On Monday, the zoos announced they had successfully cross-fostered a female Amur tiger cub named Zoya with a family of Sumatran tigers.
Zoya, which means "life" in Russian, was born on July 10 at the Philadelphia Zoo along with four other cubs. But the rest of Zoya's siblings did not survive, leaving just Zoya and her mother, Koosaka. But Koosaka rejected her, behavior that "is not uncommon among first-time mother tigers," according to zoo keepers. As a result, the zoo's animal care team stepped in to bottle-feed Zoya and provide continuous care for her.
"With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers," Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer, said in a press release.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Zoo had just welcomed a litter of three Sumatran tiger cubs on July 9.
Because the other cubs were born just one day before Zoya, the zoos thought that perhaps their mother, Lola, would be willing to care for Zoya, too.
After careful consultation, the zoos decided to try to cross-foster Zoya with Lola. Lola would nurse and care for Zoya alongside her own cubs, even though they belong to different subspecies.
"Cross-fostering in tigers is unusual, but with less than 500 Amur tigers in the wild, every cub is important for the species’ survival,” Dr. Rebecca Snyder, curator of conservation and science at the Oklahoma City Zoo, said in the press release.
Since arriving in Oklahoma, Zoya has been doing great, zoo officials report.
"We are very happy that Zoya has integrated well with her new adoptive family," Donna Evernham, curator of carnivores and ungulates at the Philadelphia Zoo, said in the press release. "She has made an incredible journey in her first two weeks of life and our Philadelphia Zoo team is thrilled to partner with the Oklahoma City Zoo to ensure Zoya’s well-being."