Just four days after birth, these two adorable tiger cubs, Wei Wei and Ming Ming, fell gravely ill. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is not uncommon. They were born two months ago in captivity at the Guiyang Forest Wildlife Zoo, in China's southwest Guizhou province. Part of a litter of 20, Wei Wei and Ming Ming were the only survivors.
After they got sick, feeders were forced to remove the cubs from their parents for intensive care.
[Fan Changda, Manager Guiyang Forest Wildlife Zoo]:
"They will go back to their parents when they are three years old and weigh 100 kilograms. We feed them with milk when they are less than 45 days old, and we fed them with beef after that."
Their plight is an unfortunate part of being an endangered species. Wild South China tigers are rare. There are less than 200 remaining in captivity, and research shows that a single male tiger fathered almost all of them. The present captive South China tigers are all inbred. Newborn tiger cubs often don't survive. If they do, they're usually physically weak and suffer from health problems, as is the case with Wei Wei and Ming Ming. When a species becomes endangered, it means a smaller breeding population and a huge decrease in genetic diversity. It's one of the major challenges endangered species face in their fight back from the brink of extinction.
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