Geographic Region: Asia
Meaning of Name: Subspecies demographic identification: Bengal, Malayan, Sumatran etc
Habitat: Siberian forests, swamps to tropical forested areas
Threats: Habitat destruction, Poaching
Left in Wild: Approximately 4000
The tiger is the largest cat species in the world. In fact the only two land carnivores larger than the tiger are the polar bear and brown bear. There are six subspecies of tiger that exist today, down from nine. They are the Bengal, Malayan, Sumatran, Siberian, Indochinese and South China tiger. There are great fears that the South China Tiger is extinct in the wild with only 59 left in captivity.
Although the tiger is revered in most of the countries that they are found in, all subspecies of tiger are in danger of extinction in differing variations. This is mainly due to the large hunting grounds an individual tiger will occupy and subsequent conflict with humans. Farming, fencing, towns and roads have all played a part in the fragmentation of the tiger’s territory. Today tigers are only found in small pockets across Asia with their habitat reducing dramatically.
|Sumatran Tiger at Australia Zoo|
Tigers are territorial, solitary animals but have been known to befriend other tigers to the point where they will share their kills with companions. There are no set rules as to why tigers befriend other tigers making it notoriously difficult to pair them up in zoos. Tigers are one of the rare animals that live just as long in zoos as they do in the wild with the average life expectancy of a tiger approximately 20 years.
Tigers love water and are very good swimmers, they will spend a good portion of a hot day relaxing in a shallow pool to keep cool. They will also follow their prey into rivers and lakes to make a kill. The Jaguar is the only other cat that enjoys water in the same way. Tigers have become nocturnal hunters due to their close proximity to humans however scientific observations in non-populated areas have noted the tiger’s still hunt in the day in those areas.
You would be hard pressed to go to one of the big zoos today without seeing a tiger. Tigers are one of the big ticket animals that zoos tend to make sure they have. Australian zoos like the Perth Zoo and Taronga Zoo participate in Sumatran tiger breeding programs and have good enclosures to view tigers. The following zoos have excellent enclosures that not only give you an opportunity to see these big cats but also information and displays on conservation.
Tiger Mountain at the Bronx Zoo has two species of tiger, the Siberian Tiger and Malayan Tiger both are housed in great enclosures mimicking the tiger’s natural habitats. Complete with deep water pools, rocks and grassed lopes the design of the enclosures focuses on animal enrichment as the top priority. The surrounding area at Tiger Mountain is set up in a way that encourages you to explore, whilst learning about the tiger and its battle to survive in the wild. This is also a great exhibit to learn about all of the animal enrichment programs that the zoo has implemented to keep the tigers from getting bored including methods like a treat spinner and a deer hide that hangs overhead.
|One of the great educational displays at Tiger Mountain – Bronx Zoo|
|Tiger relaxing in the great enclosure at the Bronx Zoo|
Tiger Temple is one of the exhibits at Australia Zoo. It has three excellent viewing areas where you can see the Sumatran tigers at rest, play or having a swim. The enclosure is very well themed with great educational messages throughout. There are daily keeper talks scheduled and are worth visiting.
Tiger Island is a great exhibit with both Bengal and Sumatra tigers on display. The tiger demonstration held twice daily is a great way to learn more about these big cats.