On June 2 the Louisville Zoo held a ‘Grand Opening’ for its Amur tiger exhibit after undergoing a $250,000, 5-month renovation.
The exhibit transformation, which is an integral part of the Zoo’s Glacier Run project, gives visitors a unique opportunity to connect with magnificent Amur tigers through interactive Zoo keeper trainings and fun, educational presentations.
‘Training plays an important role in the lives of our animals at the Zoo-it provides amazing enrichment by keeping animals active and engaged, and it also helps us to take better care of them,’ Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said. ‘But, most of the time you aren’t able to see that important aspect of our work as a Zoo visitor. This exhibit allows you to get an inside peek at what we do here at the Zoo each and every day.’
The exhibit-now named the ‘Alice S. Etscorn Tiger Tundra’ after loyal Zoo supporter Alice S. Etscorn, who has given more than $170,000 toward this phase of the Glacier Run capital campaign-represents innovative new trends in zoo exhibit design and is a way of turning the Zoo experience ‘inside out’ by allowing special access to visitors who can view these amazing Amur tigers up-close and watch them being trained without a special behind-the-scenes tour.
‘The Louisville Zoo is a truly a gem in our community and our state,’ Etscorn said. ‘Our Zoo has the unique ability to create lasting memories while also inspiring young people to care about animals and the world in which we live. It is my pleasure to support the learning, fun and keeper-visitor interaction that the Tiger Tundra exhibit will bring to the more than 800,000 visitors that come through our Zoo’s gates each year.’
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson agreed, saying: ‘The new Tiger Tundra exhibit gives families a unique opportunity to see these magnificent creatures more closely than ever before-and that kind of interaction makes a lasting impression on Zoo visitors. I’m proud to continue to support the Glacier Run project-it’s an investment that will not only enhance the Zoo experience for thousands of families, but will also help provide protection for threatened species like the polar bear. The Louisville Zoo is making a remarkable commitment to our hometown and to our planet.’
Louisville Zoo Foundation Board Chair Mark Wheeler said with the opening of the Alice S. Etscorn Tiger Tundra, the Zoo is one step closer to the completion of the overall Glacier Run project.
‘We are within striking distance of our overall campaign goals, and as a result, soon we will have exciting news to share about the construction schedule for the remainder of the project,’ Wheeler said. ‘Glacier Run will be a world-class zoo experience right here in our own back yard.’
Walczak stated: ‘Glacier Run will not only tell the dramatic story of the polar bear, one of the most charismatic species on our planet becoming more threatened every day, it will also engage visitors of all ages and educate them about the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Glacier Run will inspire us to take action in bettering the bond between people and our planet.’
Up-close Amur tiger training demonstration will be held at the Alice S. Etscorn Tiger Tundra exhibit daily at 10:45 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. For more information on Zoo’s upcoming Glacier Run exhibit, visit www.louisvillezoo.org/glacierrun/.
The Alice S. Etscorn Tiger Tundra exhibit renovation at the Louisville Zoo:
?Third phase of the overall Glacier Run project
?Work completed by the Weber Group, Inc.
?Took five months
?Currently houses one female Amur tiger-16-year-old Sinda
?Training demos can be seen daily at 10:45 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
?Enhanced upper viewing area
?A flat-screen TV allows maximum viewing of the training demonstration
AMUR TIGER INFORMATION
The Louisville Zoo’s only Amur tiger, 16-year-old female Sinda, weighs 250-pounds and eats 5.5 pounds of meat and bones a day. She has two female offspring-Anya and Irisa-currently living at the Columbus Zoo. Her favorite enrichment is cardboard boxes, and her keepers say she is definitely enjoying the renovated exhibit.
The Louisville Zoo is currently working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan to bring in another Amur tiger.
Amur tigers are the largest of the tiger subspecies and were formerly known as Siberian tigers. Males can grow up to 10 foot 9 inches long and weigh up to 660 pounds. Females are smaller, measuring about 8 1/2 feet from head to tail, and weighing about 200 to 370 pounds. The Amur orange coloring is paler than the coloring of other tigers. Its stripes are brown rather than black, and are widely spaced. It has a white chest and belly, and a thick white ruff of fur around its neck.
It is estimated there are about 500 Amur tigers left in the wild. In captivity there are about 150 Amur tigers in North America and about 315 overseas.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).