Meet the Pittsburgh Zoo's new baby tiger cub

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PITTSBURGH —

The Pittsburgh Zoo's new Amur tiger cub was introduced Thursday morning.

"He is gaining weight, nursing, and just beginning to explore," said Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. "We are observing all the milestones that we expect in a cub of this age."

The cub is scheduled to have his six-week exam Thursday.

"He will be weighed, measured, and receive his vaccinations, though he may not be too happy with the shots," said Kathy Suthard, lead mammal keeper. "At his last check-up he weighed nine pounds."

According to keepers, the little cub is curious.

"He peeks around the corner when he hears our voices," said Suthard. "But he isn't sure of us yet, so he runs back to mom, jumping on her back."

Zoo officials said the cub's mother, Toma, is very protective of her boy. She pulls him back when he ventures too far and constantly grooms and purrs to him.

The next milestone for the little cub is to be introduced to solid food.

"Right now, he just nibbles at meat, but isn't interested in eating it," said Suthard. "At first the meat is in addition to nursing and then gradually we will wean him away from mom and onto a more steady diet of solid food."

The little cub is still too young to be able to navigate the outside yard so visitors can see him playing on a monitor at the tiger window.

Amur tigers were once called Siberian tigers because originally they were found throughout Siberia.

They are now almost completely confined to the Far East portion of Russia along the Amur River.

Amur tigers are the largest member of the cat family. They can grow to nearly 4 feet tall and more than 7 feet -long and live up to 26 years in zoos.