Oregon zoo’s tiger exhibit gets a makeover

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Oregon zoo’s tiger exhibit gets a makeover

Story Published: Jun 2, 2009 at 9:04 PM PDT
Story Updated: Jun 2, 2009 at 9:04 PM PDT

This is a press release courtesy of the Oregon Zoo

Peering around branches and peeking through dense foliage, Oregon Zoo visitors can now see Amur tigers in a whole new way.

With renovations to the tiger exhibit complete, the zoo is offering patrons a more naturalistic view of Mikhail and Nicole and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the habitat of tigers from Asia’s Amur region.

“The improvements aim to recreate the experience of finding a tiger in the wild,” said Brent Shelby, zoo exhibit and design manager. “Removing some of the harsher barriers and replacing them with natural materials lets visitors have a one-of-a-kind experience each time they come.”

Hard metal railings have been eliminated, making room for trees, large planters, shrubs and glass barriers. A new, staggered wall blends into the background and gives the visitor area a better view of the exhibit. The zoo has also added a canopy and several shaded spots to give visitors some relief from the elements.

The renovations have decreased the noise and distractions that accompany the area surrounding the tiger grotto. Noise from the zoo railway and surrounding exhibits will be dampened for both tigers and patrons.

“The overall experience is more enjoyable for everyone,” Shelby said. “Visitors can linger longer in comfort at the exhibit and the tigers have a better atmosphere as they look out of their habitat.”

The new glass barriers let visitors stand even closer to the tigers and allow for unobstructed views of Mikhail and Nicole. Niches give small children and handicapped visitors full views of the exhibit. Since the glass works both ways, the tigers have the opportunity to look back at visitors too, creating a unique experience.

New educational tools and discovery centers have been placed to provide additional teaching opportunities for all guests. With the installation of glass, there will also be no need for parents and adults to lift children in the air to see the tigers.

“The completed renovations have the same feel as the Amur leopard exhibit and will help complete the journey through the Amur region,” Shelby said.

To see video of the newly remodeled tiger exhibit, visit www.oregonzoo.org/VideoArchive/remodeled_tiger_viewing_area.htm

Amur tigers are the largest of the nine tiger subspecies. Typically, Amur tigers are two to four inches taller than Bengal tigers and usually weigh around 700 pounds. Amur tigers are also distinguished by their mane of fur around the neck and some of the head, which is much more developed than other tigers as an adaptation against the cold. Listed as critically endangered, only 400 to 500 tigers are left in the Amur region of Russia.

Mikhail and Nicole arrived Sept. 12, 2000, from the John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Mich. The pair are siblings and came to the zoo when they were 2 years old. The move was a recommendation of the Siberian Tiger Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species at North American zoos and aquariums. SSPs are administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which the Oregon Zoo is an accredited member



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