A new life awaits Baikal
Published Saturday May 30th, 2009
SAINT JOHN – Every young man needs to move out of his parents’ house, sow some wild oats and meet a wild woman.
Baikal the tiger is no different.
Baikal is a 12-year-old Siberian tiger who has lived at the Cherry Brook Zoo for 10 years in an enclosure with his 20-year-old mother, Pam. This is his last weekend at the zoo because he is being sent to the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg to breed with one of their female tigers.
Lynda Collrin, the director of zoo development at the Cherry Brook Zoo, said Baikal is at the “top of the studbook,” meaning he is at the prime time for breeding.
“He’s at the peak. They’ve tried to breed the pair that they have in Winnipeg with no success. Apparently (that) male has no interest in breeding whatsoever. Whereas we have a top of the studbook, top of the SSP line animal that is very keen to mate. It’s a perfect match,” Collrin said.
She jokingly compared the matchmaking to eHarmony.com, a popular dating website.
SSP in an acronym for species survival plan, a population management and conservation program for the preservation of endangered species. This includes transferring animals between zoos so they can breed future generations of animals and take their species off the endangered list.
It is estimated by the World Wildlife Foundation that only 4,000 tigers are left in the world today, with the population constantly jeopardized by the illegal wildlife trade. They are hunted for their coats, as well as for traditional Chinese medicine.
“We work with highly endangered animals that we work to protect from extinction and I really urge people to come out and see Baikal,” Collrin said.
Baikal and the female tiger were expected to meet last year but could not due to the complicated process required to transfer the animals and place them in zoos. He will be shipped in a special crate made for tigers by transport truck to Winnipeg next week, where he will be introduced to his future mate.
He will be leaving the Cherry Brook Zoo permanently and a new female tiger is eventually expected to be brought in as a companion for Pam.
Collrin said Baikal will be greatly missed by zoo personnel and they are concerned his journey will be stressful for him.
“I guess we have to look at what is not best for us, but best for him and best for the species and yes, the zoo staff is having a hard time seeing him go,” she said.
“At the same time, I think when we hear that a litter has been born, we will feel so good about the decisions.”
This is the last weekend that Baikal will be available for zoo visitors in Saint John to see