Hidden cameras capture birth of London Zoo's first tiger cub for 17 years

Five-year-old Sumatran tiger Melati gave birth after a six-minute labour

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The Independent Online

London Zoo has welcomed the birth of its first tiger cub in 17 years following a top secret operation.

The birth of the baby Sumatran tiger last month was captured on hidden cameras and is the result of careful monitoring by zookeepers.

The pregnancy was kept under wraps by zoo staff, who monitored mother tiger Melati from a distance using CCTV.

Melati's pregnancy lasted for a total of 105 days and it only took her a mere six minutes to give birth to her baby.

Zookeeper Paul Kybett said: "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.

"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!"

The sex of the cub is not yet known and zoo staff are continuing to watch mother and baby on hidden cameras.

Sumatran tigers are an endangered species and the population is in decline, making the birth at London Zoo all the more significant.