Wildlife | Animals

Mother Tiger's Cub Stops Breathing After Being Born, But Her Instincts Kick In And She Won't Give Up

BBC Earth/YouTube

They are among the most critically endangered animals living on Earth today. As of 2008, there are only about 679 individual tigers alive.

The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving species of tiger living on the Sunda Islands. Their cousins, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger have gone extinct.

Kaitlyn, the Sumatran Tiger who lives at the Australia Zoo, can trace her bloodline back to wild origins. She is a very rare and special tiger whose babies are some of the most genetically valuable tigers to have been born at the zoo.

Kaitlyn is a first-time mother, so zookeepers are sure to be on hand just in case. When one of her babies starts showing signs of distress, it takes everything they've got not to jump in and help.

Don't worry, Kaitlyn knows what to do...

Like her wild ancestors, Kaitlyn is one of the smallest tiger subspecies. She weighs about 187lbs and she is the first tiger to give birth to a litter of cubs at the Australia Zoo.

When it is time for her twins to be born, Kaitlyn knows exactly what to do. Zookeepers look on in another room, so that the new mother tiger can have privacy to concentrate on what needs to be done.

Her first baby is born, but he isn't breathing. The zookeepers are nervous as she massages her new baby and stimulates his lungs to expand. Finally, after several tense minutes the little baby squeaks and he's breathing on his own!

[h/t BBC Earth / Wikipedia / Australia Zoo]