A litter of three rare Amur tiger cubs born at the Highland Wildlife Park could be vital to the future of the species.
The one-week-old triplets were born on May 18 and are said to be doing well.
They are currently being nursed away from public view, but this video passed to the P&J shows mum Dominika tending to her tiny cubs from within their new enclosure.
Visitors to the park can still see dad Botzman, who will be gradually introduced to the cubs as they grow older.
Dominika was born at the park in 2009 and gave birth to her first litter in 2013.
Botzman, who was born in Moscow, fathered three cubs in 2018 at Whipsnade Zoo. He arrived in the Highlands in October 2020 as part of a European breeding programme.
The pair were introduced just before Valentine’s Day in the hope they would breed and add to the population of the endangered species.
Vickie Larkin, carnivore team leader at Highland Wildlife Park, said: “We are really excited about our new arrivals, but the first few weeks of a cub’s life are crucial. So we are keeping public viewing closed for now to give Dominika and the youngsters lots of peace and quiet.
“The cubs’ eyes will start to open any day now and in the coming weeks they will be weighed and sexed during their first health check and named shortly after.
“Amur tigers grow quite quickly, increasing almost four times in size within the first month of their life, but they will remain dependent on their mum for at least 15 months.
“We hope visitors will start to see them out and about towards the end of July.
“Dominika is a very attentive mother and it is beautiful to see her given the chance to display these natural behaviours again.”
Just 500 Amur tigers left in the wild
As well as being part of the endangered species breeding programme for Amur tigers, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which runs the wildlife park and Edinburgh Zoo, has supported tiger conservation in Nepal.
This involves developing methods to evaluate tiger diets within the RZSS WildGenes laboratory based at Edinburgh Zoo.
Ms Larkin added: “There are just 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild, so our adorable cubs represent an important contribution to the future of this endangered species which is at risk of extinction due to extensive habitat loss and poaching.”
Once the cubs are old enough for visitors, a lucky winner could have the chance to feed the tiger family by entering an RZSS prize draw to help raise funds for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre at the wildlife park.
The £5.5million wildlife visitor and education centre is seen as having a pivotal role in conservation by inspiring up to 200,000 annual visitors and local people to protect nature and native wildlife.
The draw, launched earlier this month, aims to raise £50,000 for the project.
So far more than £23,000 has been pledged. Entry is £5 and closes on 31 May.