Archive for Tigers

These Big Cats are Turning Three

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Indah and Bugara, the zoo’s twin Sumatran tiger siblings, are turning three this week…but their birthdays aren’t on the same day.  Why not?

“Indah was born before midnight and Bugara was born shortly after,” explains zoo keeper Kristen Sliger.  “So even though they’re litter-mates they have different birthdays.”

The pair arrived in Fort Wayne last spring when they were still one year old.  Guests can get up close and personal with the tigers – their glass wall exhibit is designed for close (but safe) encounters.  Children can have fun playing “peek-a-boo” with Indah and Bugara when the cats venture in and out of sight near the large glass viewing area.

Guest interaction keeps the tigers active, but what happens before and after hours?  Sliger discusses some of the enrichment activities that tigers enjoy before and after they go out on exhibit.

“We spray Indah and Bugara with an all-natural fly spray every morning just after we put them out on exhibit,” states Sigler.  “They get active during and after the spray.  We think it has something to do with the mint smell and its close relation to catnip.”

Indah and Bugara eat a specially-mixed feline diet of meat and vitamins, but Sliger shares that Sunday evenings are extra-special for the pair.  “Every Sunday when they come in for the night they each get a huge bone.  It’s a cow’s femur.”

Each tiger gets its own bone to avoid any sibling rivalry.  Indah may be a little older, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to share her treats yet.

Click on the photos to enlarge:

Posted in: Animal Diets, Enrichment, Indonesian Rain Forest, Tigers, Zoo News

Tiger Twins Turn Two!

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Indah and Bugara, our Sumatran tiger siblings, turn two years old this week!

“These tigers are very popular,” says Indonesian Rain Forest Area Manager Tanisha Dunbar of the two cats, who arrived this winter from the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas.

Though they are twins, the tigers have different birthdays.   Indah, the female, was born on August 15 and Bugara, the male, was born several hours later on August 16.  We’re planning a small celebration on August 16! 

“Indah is especially interested in people,” says Dunbar.  “If you visit first thing in the morning, she’ll follow kids from window to window.”  Bugara is the more laid-back of the two cats.  “He is not as focused as his sister,” Dunbar says.  “His attention span is pretty short!”

Bugara is the larger of the two cats, weighing 254 pounds.  Indah weighs 204 pounds.  Aside from the size difference, it’s easy to tell the two cats apart because the tip of Bugara’s left ear is missing.  On Indah, look for the three black stripes above each eye that look like oversized “eyelashes.”

Because their mother did not properly care for them, Indah and Bugara were hand-reared by Cameron Park Zoo staff, which is partly why they are so interested in people.  Hand-reared cats are typically not good candidates for breeding, so Bugara has been neutered.   This allows us to exhibit the cats together even after they reach breeding age.

Sumatran tigers are critically endangered on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is their only wild home.  Their native forests are being destroyed to build unsustainable palm oil plantations. 

YOU CAN HELP!  Because palm oil is in thousands of everyday products, it’s hard to avoid, but you can support companies that buy only sustainably-grown palm oil.  Download a free app to help you make eco-friendly shopping choices that help tigers, orangutans, and other rain forest animals.

Learn more about Sumatran tigers.

Watch a  video of Indah and Bugara’s first day in Tiger Forest this spring.

Click on each photo to enlarge.

 

Posted in: Conservation, Tigers

A Sneak Peek at our New Tigers

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Sumatran tigers Indah and Bugara arrived at the zoo in February, and on Wednesday, zoo keepers allowed the cats to explore Tiger Forest for the first time in preparation for the zoo’s opening day on Saturday.  Read about the cats’ arrival from the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas here.

Zoo staff members gathered to see how the one-and-a-half-year-old brother and sister would react to their new surroundings.  Indah was the first to walk the long chute that connects the indoor holding to the wooded outdoor exhibit.  “Indah was much braver than her brother,” said Indonesian Rain Forest Area Manager Tanisha Dunbar.  “She definitely took more risks.”

Once in the exhibit, Indah immediately investigated the pond, viewing windows, and every tree trunk.  Meanwhile, Bugara was more cautious.  “He was startled by the construction that was going on nearby,” said Dunbar.  Once he entered the exhibit, Bugara instantly walked to the small viewing window to check out the staff members who had assembled to watch.

After a few minutes, Bugara relaxed a bit, but that’s when the action began.  Indah began stalking her brother at every opportunity, crouching behind logs and springing out to chase him.  A few times, both cats leaped at each other with all eight feet leaving the ground!  Bugara eventually wised up and began looking behind himself every few minutes to make sure Indah wasn’t following him.

Indah and Bugara are amazing representatives of this critically endangered species.  Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, making zoo cats increasingly important for the survival of the species.  Read more about Sumatran tigers here.

Click on the photos below to enlarge to full screen.

Posted in: Tigers

Indah and Bugara are Here!

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After receiving a huge-send-off from the Cameron Park Zoo, Sumatran tigers Indah and Bugara arrived safely in Fort Wayne last week after an all-night ride from their birthplace in Waco, Texas.

The Cameron Park Zoo Staff sent a hand-made banner with the tigers, signed by the tigers’ many fans during a going-away party held for the cats the week before their departure.  Because they were rejected by their mother as cubs and hand-raised by zoo staff, Indah and Bugara were very dear to the staff.  “We will miss them greatly,” said Cameron Park Zoo Marketing and Public Relations Manager Duane McGregor. 

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The Fort Wayne staff is already impressed with the cats’ personalities.  “They are really nice cats,” said Animal Curator Mark Weldon.  “I think they’re going to do really well in our exhibit.”

Indah and Bugara replace Teddy and Kemala, the zoo’s former tigers, who recently went to the San Diego Zoo and the Toronto Zoo, respectively, for breeding purposes.  The moves of all four tigers were recommended by the Species Survival Plan, which coordinates breeding of endangered species in zoos.

Because they are brother and sister, Indah and Bugara will not breed, but they are a perfect fit for Tiger Forest because they get along so well and can be exhibited together.   Plan to meet Indah and Bugara on your first visit of the season, which begins  April 20.

See photos of Indah and Bugara.

Posted in: Tigers

Tigers Depart and Arrive at Zoo to Help Save Critically Endangered Species

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One Sumatran tiger has departed and two more will arrive this month at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo as part of a cooperative effort to increase the population of this critically endangered species.

Male Sumatran tiger Teddy, who was the only tiger at the zoo, departed last week for the San Diego Zoo.  Teddy was one of three cubs born at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo on April 22, 2004.  Teddy’s companion, a female named Kemala, moved to the Toronto Zoo in December.

A pair of one-year-old Sumatran tigers from the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas is expected to arrive in Fort Wayne later this month.  Indah, the female, was born on August 15, 2011.  Her brother Bugara was born 14 hours later on August 16.  They were rejected by their mother and hand-raised by the Cameron Park Zoo staff.

The moves of all four tigers were recommended by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).  The SSP coordinates the breeding of zoo tigers to ensure the genetic diversity of the captive population.  Both Teddy and Kemala will be matched with potential mates at their new facilities.

“Though we are always sad to see animals leave, knowing that they could breed and increase the population of this species makes it worthwhile,” says zoo animal curator Mark Weldon.  About 65 Sumatran tigers currently live in accredited United States zoos, and four were born in 2012.

Because they are so closely related, Indah and Bugara will not be bred with each other.   As hand-reared cats, they are not good candidates for breeding with tigers who were parent-reared.  In addition, their genetic background makes them a low priority for breeding.  “There are a limited number of zoos with breeding space for Sumatran tigers,” says Weldon, “and those spaces are reserved for cats who can contribute the most genetic diversity to the population.”

Upon arrival, Indah and Bugara will undergo a routine 30-day quarantine period before being introduced to their exhibit.  The two will live together in the wooded half-acre Tiger Forest exhibit within the award-winning Indonesian Rain Forest.

Found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers though to remain in the wild.  Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the six living tiger subspecies.  Experts believe only that only 3,200 total tigers remain in the wild.  Three tiger subspecies have become extinct in the last 80 years.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

 

Posted in: Tigers