Taronga Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger pair is being introduced to try to create a new bloodline in the Australasian breeding program during the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.
Taronga Zoo’s Life Sciences Manager, Simon Duffy, said: “Our male tiger ‘Satu’ and female ‘Jumilah’ are part of a very important breeding program to safeguard against a complete loss of this endangered species in the wild. They have mated before, but are yet to produce cubs, so we are hopeful that this year will be an auspicious one for them and breeding efforts during their lunar year will pay off.”
To raise awareness of the critical situation for tigers, the Taronga Foundation has commissioned a float featuring a huge, illuminated tiger lantern that will participate in both the Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras parades supported by Taronga staff
Tragically, Sumatran Tigers are on the brink of extinction with only 300 remaining in the wild, due to poaching, the illegal trade in tiger parts for traditional medicines and habitat loss. Less than 4000 Tigers of all sub-species are believed to remain in the wild.”
“There are now more tigers being cared for in world zoos than in the wild, so zoo breeding programs are vital to the species survival. Three of the world’s tiger species, the Caspian, Balinese and Javanese, are already extinct. Soon zoos may be the only places future generations will be able to see and learn about these big cats,” said Simon.
“Because of the dwindling numbers of tigers in the wild it is important to manage the genetic diversity of the remaining individuals in zoos very carefully. This involves the efforts of many international zoos. Everyone is pitching in to secure a future for these stunning creatures.”
“The Zoo’s pairing is an international story of hope. Satu, came from Germany to breed with the Taronga-bred female when she comes into season. At other times Jumilah is an exceptionally fiery character,“ Simon said.
People born during the Tiger Lunar Year are generally confident and natural-born leaders. Appropriately, renowned conservationist, David Attenborough was born in Year of the Tiger.
“As we join the Chinese New Year celebrations we are asking people to spare a thought for this struggling species and join with us and help protect this endangered big cat.”
“This can be as simple as choosing sustainable timber for your household furniture which helps protect their habitat. Travellers should also be careful to choose appropriate souvenirs as, sadly, tiger pelts and other body parts are still sold in markets and shops.”
“During 2010, tragically we expect that there will be a surge in demand for tiger body parts. Already in 2009, a female tiger was killed and skinned in an exhibit at Rimbo Zoo in Indonesia due to the hefty price it would fetch on the black market,” said Simon.
Taronga also expects many people will want to visit Satu and Jumilah for good luck, however visitors can take a tiger home with them by adopting a tiger through Taronga’s Zoo Parent program. This will help with veterinary and food costs enabling extra zoo funds to be channelled into conservation. More details can be found at www.taronga.org.au
Taronga Zoo is committed to Big Cat conservation, with 30 Sumatran Tigers bred at the Zoo since 1979. Offspring have been transferred overseas to take part in breeding programs in various zoos across three continents. It is a leading participant in the regional breeding program and contributes to the 21st Century Tiger Conservation project.