JACKSON, NJ — The Six Flags Wild Safari family has grown by two, after the birth of two Siberian tiger cubs in late April.
The two cubs, both females, were born to Nadya on April 25, Six Flags Great Adventure officials said. Nadya is the Siberian tiger who was hand-raised by the safari’s animal care team with African lion Zuri when the two were abandoned at birth four years ago.
The two cubs, now 10 weeks old, have been named Heather and Julie, after Heather Mitts Feeley and Julie Ertz, members of the United States women’s national soccer team. Nadya gave birth to her first cub in 2019; that cub was named Carli, after soccer star Carli Lloyd.
While Carli was hand-raised by the safari team, Nadya has been taking care of Heather and Julie, said Dr. Ken Keiffer, the safari veterinarian. Read more: New Tiger Cub At Six Flags Named For NJ Soccer Star Carli Lloyd
“It’s not uncommon for first-time tiger moms to abandon their cubs,” Keiffer said. “Though Carli was hand-raised by our animal care team, Nadya has shown great care in raising Heather and Julie.”
In the wild, cubs spend two to three years with their mother before they go off on their own, he said.
Nadya, Zuri, and Carli, raised by the safari’s animal care team, still show affection to the animal care team despite being separated by fences, park staff said. All three rub on their fences, and the tigers will frequently give their signature “chuff” vocalization as a friendly greeting. The animal care team “chuffs” in reply, park staff said. Read more: Six Flags Shows Off Lion, Tiger Cubs It’s Raising Together
Heather and Julie each weigh about 15 pounds and will grow to be over 500. Siberian tigers, the largest cats in the world, are endangered; there are estimated to be fewer than 500 left in the wild.
Guests can visit Nadya, Heather, and Julie in the Tigris Asiana section of the Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure. “Aunt” Zuri the African lion and sister Carli are always nearby.
The Wild Safari continues to be a self-guided drive-through during the coronavirus pandemic. You must purchase tickets and make a reservation in advance of visiting using Six Flags’ new online registration system. A new, free audio tour is available to stream online that provides fun facts about 70 different species of animals at the safari. Learn more about the animals and their habitats, purchase tickets, make reservations, and stream the audio tour on the Six Flags website.
Have a news tip? Email [email protected] Follow Manchester Patch on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on the Manchester Patch