Keeper Monique Counihan
Keepers at the Zoo are saddened by the passing of 21 year old Selatan the Sumatran Tiger. Over her time, many have had the pleasure of working alongside Selatan, and all of us have fond memories of her. If you didn’t love her, then you sure as heck were challenged by her. She was a Tiger that made you earn your stripes!
Selatan was born at Melbourne Zoo in 1990, was transferred to Taronga Zoo at two years of age and paired with Shiva to produce four offspring, 13 'grandcubs' and three 'great grandcubs' and finally spent her twilight years here at Taronga Western Plains Zoo where she has enjoyed doing a lot of not much at all!
When I first met Selatan eight and a half years ago, as an unfamiliar face, she was naturally wary of me and it took three months to start to form a trust relationship. Given it took me such a long time to form a bond with Sel and knowing Sel to be the guarded and cautious Tiger she was, I made absolute certain that I did nothing to lose it.
Over these years I have enjoyed watching Sel grow with confidence within herself and with her interactions with not only her keepers and visitors but the other tigers that have passed through our facility. Selatan always had a soft spot for Juara, her male offspring, and would always rush over to greet him even if it meant getting out of bed on chilly morning. She would rarely let Juara walk past without a smooch and a chuff. On the flip side, Selatan wasn't the most loving grandmother, more often than not, she would dish out attitude toward her ‘grandcubs’ Satu and Isha. They took it all in their stride but never gave up on trying to win her affections!
Not only did her keepers have a soft spot for Sel, she had her fair share of admirers amongst the Zoo visitors. I have met several lovely people who have followed Selatan from being a young animal at Taronga Zoo, through motherhood and into retirement up here in Dubbo. She was one special Tiger.
Personally, Selatan taught me my trade and she is a large part of why I have such a strong passion for her species. I shall miss her.