Banham Zoo tiger cubs are named

The Banham Zoo tiger cubs have been named following an Ebay auction.

The Banham Zoo tiger cubs have been named following an Ebay auction. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Scampering and tumbling after one another, with devoted mum Sveta keeping a watchful eye, these young tiger cubs have, until today, been loved by all – but did not have names.

Now the wait is over as the EDP can reveal that one will be called Yeva, the Russian version of Eve, and the other will be named Xenia, from the Greek for generosity and hospitality, after an online auction by Banham Zoo came to an end.

The first was chosen by mother and son Julie and Daniel Horsfield, from Watford, who bid £310, while Xenia was secured for £285 by Ray and Polly Boulter, from St Neots, in Cambridgeshire.

Mr Horsfield, a keen fund-raiser for the charity 21st Century Tiger and volunteer for London Zoo, said Yeva was chosen to match the cub's Russian heritage.

Banham Zoo's lead qualified keeper, Ollie Lewis-McDonald, said he though they were 'lovely' names.

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'They're quite easy for us to pronounce,' he said.

'You sometimes worry with online competitions that they're going to come up with something you can't say but they trip off the tongue and sound nice for two little girls.'

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Bidding in the 10-day auction began at just 99p and the winners will also get the chance of a behind the scenes tour of the tiger facility.

The chosen names for the cubs will be permanently registered with the international stud book for Amur tigers and all funds raised will go towards projects supported by 21st Century Tiger – a conservation initiative between Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation and the Zoological Society of London.

The two Amur tiger cubs, who were born on June 14, will remain at the zoo for around 18 months after which they will be mature enough to be transferred to others within the European Breeding Programme.

'They had their 12-week health check this week and got their second vaccinations and the vet is extremely pleased with them and how feisty they are when we round them up,' Mr Lewis-McDonald added.

'We've had cubs born in the past but I think tiger cubs are a little bit special.

'I think the general public loves tigers, and they were born at just the right time – just before the summer holidays – and then it's been so hot so they've been out and everybody has been able to see them. It's been amazing.

'The main thing is to breed these animals so they're around for the future.

'We want to get the conservation message out and by raising the money it will go back into tiger conservation.'

The cubs' father, Kuzma, who was born at Banham in 2008, was recently ranked as one of the most important males within the European captive breeding programme.

His genes are poorly represented within the captive population and breeding him was considered a high priority.

His mate, Sveta, five, arrived from Lisbon Zoo in 2011 and the cub's birth was their first successful litter together.

Amur tigers are listed as an endangered species by International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Recent information indicates there are less than 400 animals left in the wild and that captive breeding could be a critical factor in the future survival of the world's largest cat.

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