We were lucky to be home to a breeding pair of Amur tigers - male Zambar and his partner Alyona. In June 2014 we heard the pitter patter of stripy paws as we welcomed male tiger cubs, Barney and Radzi, to the group. Both cubs have now moved to other zoos in Europe and have had their own families. Unfortunately, Zambar passed away peacefully in October 2018 following a lengthy illness.
In the wild
Originating from Northern Asia, this species has been hunted to the very edge of extinction. Poaching, loss of habitat to farming and deforestation and the sale of skins and body parts for traditional medicine have decimated their numbers.
Tigers can live up to about 15 years in the wild and longer in captivity. They usually produce a litter of 2 to 4 cubs, which stay with their mother until they are at least 2 years old. The female looks after her cubs with little or no help from the father.
There are only about 4,500 to 5,000 tigers left in the wild. The Amur tiger is the largest cat in the world as well as one of the rarest. A male can weigh the same as 5 grown men and be up to 10 feet tall from its nose to the tip of its tail. They also have huge feet which enable them to move easily across deep snow.
In the wild, they catch and eat mostly deer and wild boar, but at the zoo they are fed a diet of rabbit, beef, chicken, vitamins and minerals. They have a “starve day” once a week to replicate their dietary habits in the wild.