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Adorably fluffy — and rare — triplets make debut at Florida zoo. See their first steps

A rocky landscape lies barren as the sun starts to rise on the east coast of Florida.

Then, two fluffy ears pop up from behind an outcropping. They are followed by a striped head, four massive paws and a long tail dipped in black.

The creature moves cautiously across the rock as it takes in the scenery for the very first time.

This is what you would have seen standing in the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on March 1 as three Malayan tigers made their debut.

“Mina, Machli and Beppy followed Cinta into their habitat for the first time!” the zoo said in a Facebook video. “Machli, being the more adventurous of the three, came out first, while Mina was a little apprehensive and was the last to join.”

The tiger triplets, members of a critically endangered species, were born to mother Cinta on Nov. 5 and spent the first four months of their lives getting to know their environment and how to live with siblings.

“Each day, the cubs grow bigger and stronger,” the zoo said in a Nov. 23 Facebook post announcing a livestream to watch the tigers. “They spend most of their time eating, sleeping soundly and cuddling with mom.”

The cubs explored their new public habitat for the first time on March 1, the zoo said. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The cubs explored their new public habitat for the first time on March 1, the zoo said. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

One month after the cubs were born, the animal care team noticed one of the cubs was struggling to walk.

“The cub was taken to our veterinary hospital for radiographs which confirmed that the cub’s leg is broken,” the zoo said Dec. 6. “Just like with humans, this can be a delicate situation between mom and cub.”

The cub, a girl later named Mina, had her leg splinted to realign her bones, the zoo said, but after more than a week of medical care, her leg wasn’t healing as the veterinarians hoped.

On Dec. 13, the cub underwent surgery to attach plates to her “very tiny bones” that would help them heal, the zoo said.

“The cub was given pain medications and antibiotics and recovered well from the procedure before reuniting with the family,” the zoo said.

Soon, she was back to playing with her brother and sister.

The cubs continued to grow, and a naming contest hosted by the zoo gave them identities.

Mina, the once injured cub, rolled around with brother and sister Machli and Beppy, and the three were given more and more freedom to explore their world.

Mina continued to undergo regular veterinary exams, and the zoo said Feb. 27 it was “happy to report that she is healing well” and shared her X-ray images before and after her surgery.

On Feb. 28, the zoo announced the cubs were ready for the public.

“The family will have the choice to explore the behind the scenes area, outdoor habitat or remain indoors and may not be in public view,” the zoo said. “Each day they will continue to grow more confident and playful.”

The triplets spent four months playing with each other and their mom before they were ready to join the habitat, the zoo said. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The triplets spent four months playing with each other and their mom before they were ready to join the habitat, the zoo said. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The cubs’ birth and success is critical to the survival of the species as fewer than 250 Malayan tigers roam the wild, the zoo said.

The tigers are one of the smallest of their kind and found throughout southern and central Malay Peninsula in Thailand, according to Malaysian Wildlife.

The Malayan tiger was only identified as its own subspecies in 2004, Malaysian Wildlife said, and has since seen a dramatic decline in its population.

“Each cub represents hope for the future of their species and are a significant addition to their sustainability,” the zoo said. “We can’t wait for you all to fall even more in love with their playful and spunky personalities in-person in their habitat as they grow bigger and bolder each day.”

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