Rare Sumatran tiger mum to welcome cubs after tragic year for Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is getting set for the pitter-patter of tiny paws and claws, months after the tragic deaths of nine animals at the zoo.

The zoo has announced Sumatran tiger Delilah is expecting cubs due some time between Christmas and early next year.

The six-year-old, who arrived from Australia Zoo late last year as part of a breeding program to save the species, has put on 7 kilograms in recent weeks, confirming suspicions from keepers that she is pregnant.

“The birth of any Sumatran tiger is significant as they are critically endangered with less than 400 left in the wild,” Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said.

The cubs would be the first Sumatran tigers born at Adelaide Zoo, with the news bringing joy to keepers who have been forced to endure tragedy in recent weeks.

In October, Zoos SA confirmed it was investigating the unexpected deaths of seven female quokkas and two yellow-footed rock wallabies the previous month.

“The fact that Delilah is pregnant is a fantastic achievement,” Ms Bensted said.

“While the news is extremely exciting, we must be practical. With any pregnancy comes risks and even more so for a first-time mum.

“Now, it’s time to watch and wait and keep our paws crossed.”

Staff have “worked tirelessly to safely introduce Delilah” to mate with eight-year-old Kembali, Ms Bensted said.

She linked the announcement to highlight the zoo’s campaign for certified sustainable palm oil, with deforestation and habitat destruction blamed for the perilous plight of Sumatran tigers in the wild.

“The growth of unsustainable palm oil plantations and other oil-producing plants has seen vast areas of forests destroyed,” Ms Bensted said.