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Sumatran tiger cubs born at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The Smithsonian's National Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two rare Sumatran tiger cubs that were born earlier this week.

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Photo: National Zoo

Damai grooms for her cubs

The zoo's Sumatran tiger, Damai, gave birth to the cubs about two hours apart this past Monday, both of which appear to be healthy and doing well.

While zookeepers don't expect the baby tigers to be on exhibit until later this year, zoo officials say that Damai - a first-time mother - has been a "natural" with her cubs.

"Damai came to us as a young tiger herself, so it's really special to see her become a great mom," Craig Saffoe, a keeper and biologist at the Zoo, said in a statement.

Neither of the cubs have opened their eyes yet, but they're already active; zookeepers say they're spending most of their time treating their mother's body "like a jungle gym."

Zookeepers and conservationists alike are thrilled with the news of the birth based on the fact that there are fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, making the species critically endangered.

If you just can't wait to lay your eyes on the cubs, the Zoo has set up a special tiger cam.

The zoo is on a bit of a baby boom lately. Baby leopards and sloth cubs were born earlier this year. And of course we're always on panda watch. Giant panda Mei Xiang has been showing recent signs that she too could be pregnant, which excites animal keepers even more.

"We are hoping that there's some baby mojo in the air and we'll continue to have babies," said Dell Guglielmo, tiger keeper at the National Zoo.

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