A Siberian tiger cub found trapped in a woodpile in snowbound northeastern China later died, The Times of London reported Tuesday.
One of the rarest animals in the world, it was the first seen in the area for at least 60 years.
Even though the cub later died, evidence that the endangered animal is reproducing in the wild delighted conservationists, with only 20 Siberian tigers known to survive in China outside captivity.
Sun Haiyi, deputy director of the Wildlife Research Institute of Heilongjiang province, who was overseeing the cub’s care, said, "This find is very important because it shows that there is at least one tiger family group in the mountains."
The extraordinary discovery was made by a forestry worker who woke last Thursday to hear roars coming from his woodpile.
He called the police, who in turn contacted wildlife experts and then kept watch until they arrived.
"The tiger didn’t sleep and so we never closed our eyes. It was very nervous," the police team leader, Sun Chengli, said.
The cub, a female who was trapped under a log, was believed to be about nine months old.
She was tranquilized and transferred to the local police station but died soon after her capture.