London: For the first time in 17 years, a tiger cub has been born at London Zoo, with the moment of the birth captured by hidden cameras in a top secret operation.
Sumatran tiger Melati gave birth to a single cub of the critically endangered sub-species on September 22 during a six-minute labour, the zoo said.
For around 105 days, zookeepers have kept the pregnancy under wraps in order to monitor Melati through hidden cameras that were installed to keep an eye on the first-time mother.
It is through these cameras that staff were able to record the birth that lasted only six-minutes.
Opened by Prince Phillip in March, Tiger Territory was designed specifically to encourage breeding of this critically endangered and declining sub-species.
"We are simply over-the-moon about the birth of the tiger cub; it`s a momentous occasion for everyone at ZSL London Zoo and a real cause for celebration," Zookeeper Paul Kybett said.
"We were nervous about the pregnancy, as it was Melati`s first cub and we didn`t know how she`d react. When it came to her due date, we were all watching our monitors with bated breath.
"The actual birth happened very quickly and Melati`s maternal instincts kicked in immediately, as she started licking the cub all over and it soon began wriggling around - we couldn`t have asked for a smoother birth!" he said.
Kybatt said it`s still very early days, so they are leaving Melati alone to take care of her baby.
Cameras allow the staff to watch them both from a distance - and so far Melati is proving to be a doting mother, he said.
The new arrival, whose sex is not yet known, is a direct descendant of the zoo`s last cub, Hari, who is the father of mother Melati.
Currently snuggled in Tiger Territory`s special cubbing dens with Melati, the cub will remain off-show for a few more weeks, until Melati is ready to show it off to the world.