Philadelphia Zoo to remove 2 tigers from ZooMontana
ZooMontana’s financial troubles have led to the removal of two more animals from its collection: two of the facility’s three tigers.
The tigers, Tierny and Koosaka, 4-year-old females on loan from the Philadelphia Zoo, will be relocated after a new facility is found.
Prince, the zoo’s older male tiger, will remain at ZooMontana.
“Unfortunately, the zoo has had a sketchy past and because there hasn’t been a good financial past, they are worried about that,” ZooMontana Director Jeff Ewelt said.
ZooMontana lost its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums earlier this year, leading to the removal of three grizzly bear cubs, another adult grizzly bear and now the two tigers.
The adult grizzly has yet to be relocated. Ewelt was not sure when the two tigers would be removed.
A veterinarian from the Philadelphia Zoo visited ZooMontana in July for a site visit, spending half a day inspecting the tiger exhibit and other parts of the zoo.
“In keeping with the AZA standards and also our own internal concerns for the welfare of our animals, we thought that visiting the facility was appropriate in doing our own due diligence,” said Kim Lengel, Philadelphia Zoo animal curator. “The tigers looked in great condition. We don’t have any immediate concerns for the health and welfare of the tigers.”
Lengel said the Philadelphia Zoo was concerned about the Billings zoo’s financial history and lack of long-term sustainability plans.
When and where the two tigers will go depends on the recommendation made by the Species Survival Plan, or SSP. The tigers were brought to ZooMontana through the breeding program.
The SSP will make a recommendation to move the tigers based on the genetics of the species. Lengel said the tigers were not strong candidates for breeding when they were moved to ZooMontana.
“They had a lot of relatives in the population already,” Lengel said. “But the SSP looks at populations every year, and sometimes those things change depending on how animals in the populations have bred or not bred.”
If the recommendation calls for it, Lengel said they do have room for the female tigers at the Philadelphia Zoo. She said their facilities have a flexible setup with a number of the habitats connected by tunnels, allowing for easy moving of the animals.
“This is certainly another black eye for us, I’m not going to say it’s not,” Ewelt said. “We’re excited to get Prince out there daily as we continue to build and get a better reputation.”
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