Webcam footage released Saturday by Canada's Calgary Zoo offers a first look at tiny tiger triplets born that morning to parents Katja and Baikal, two Amur tigers that specialists bred together in the hopes of boosting the highly endangered species' population.
The last census of Amur tigers revealed that only 350 to 400 remain in their natural habitat, the Amur region of northeast China, eastern Russia and parts of North Korea, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society of Russia.
The cats are increasingly threatened by road construction and illegal poaching, which the group estimates is responsible for 75 to 85 percent of all Amur tiger deaths. Amur tigers also face low population growth rates because the species has a high infant mortality rate, according to the WCS.
In a press release announcing the triplets' birth, Area Manager Colleen Baird explained that the cubs' mother previously had two unsuccessful births. So far, the outlook for these new cubs is positive.
"It is early stages yet, but we are cautiously optimistic as we monitor the care that the mother, Katja, is providing to the cubs," Baird said in the press release. "We have infrared cameras in the den and so we are able to monitor the cubs and Katja’s behaviour without disturbing either – right now she is doing absolutely everything right. Despite high mortality rates common in tiger births, we hope that all three cubs survive."
Check out the video of the newborn cubs above.