Here’s your dose of cute for the day. Officials at a nature reserve in Russia has released rare footage of endangered Siberian tiger cubs — believed to be 3- to 4-months old — playing and wrestling while their mother hunts for food.
The Land of the Leopard (or Leopard Land) National Park in Russia’s Far East is hoping the video, captured by a camera trap, can help researchers learn more about behavioral characteristics, brood size, and the family life of the reclusive tigers, a protected species in Russia.
The footage shows the cute cubs, which will weigh up to 660 pounds in adulthood, roll on the grass on a hilltop and playfully grab and chew each other’s ears and tails, as they wait for their mother to return. At times, they just relax on their backs.
They can also be seen at night on the hilltop, nestling with their mother.
“For the first time, a phototrap recorded four young cubs of the [endangered] cat on video at once, showing their usual life, full of exploration, games and relaxing rest,” Leopard Land National Park’s YouTube page said.
Siberian tigers, also called the Amur tigers, are the world’s largest cats, according to National Geographic. They live primarily in Russia’s birch forests, which offer the lowest human density of any tiger habitat, and the most complete ecosystem.
Females give birth to litters of two to six cubs, which they raise with little or no help from the male. Cubs cannot hunt until they are 18 months old, and remain with their mothers for two to three years, when they disperse to find their own territory.
Siberian tigers are a protected species in Russia. Thanks to ongoing conservation work (Siberian tigers are known to be one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite animals), its population in the country’s Far East region has grown from 330 tigers in 2005 to 562 in 2015, according to the Moscow Times.
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