Tiger brothers to leave San Diego Zoo for Florida

Posted at 10:43 am October 27, 2006 by Bridget Mulholland

Our 16 month-old Malayan tiger brothers, Mata and Rimba, are tentatively scheduled to fly to their new home on Wednesday November 8. They will be moving to the Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach, Florida, and all of the keepers in Tiger River (along with the building and grounds attendants, construction and maintenance workers, and gardeners!) will be sad to see them go. We have all become extremely attached to these playful, personable, somewhat destructive, yet lovable young tiger boys. (Read Bridget’s previous blog, Tiger Cubs on the Move.)

Both Rimba and Mata have been crate trained in preparation for their move, and they are now both very comfortable in their crates. One of their new keepers from the Palm Beach Zoo will be flying out to San Diego before their departure date to meet them and watch some of their training sessions. I’m sure that she will be so excited when she meets them; I’ll bet it’s love at first sight!

On a different note, there will be one individual in Tiger River I think will be relieved when they are gone. Their mother, Mek Degong, has been pretty aggressive with her two adolescent boys. She is ready for them to leave her territory and find their own. This would normally happen in the wild when the cubs are between 1½ and 2 years of age. We separated her from Mata and Rimba two weeks ago when we observed her growling and chasing them away any time they wanted to be near her. This separation from their mom has actually been very good for them. They now feel very comfortable without her, so that is one less thing that will be different when they go to their new home.

After the brothers have gone to Florida, we are planning to reintroduce Mek and Awang Relak (the cubs’ father). The two adult tigers always chuff (a tiger greeting) when they pass by each other’s door, so we are hopeful that their reintroduction will go smoothly. If all goes well, Mek and Awang could be out on exhibit together in mid November. But, before that happens, please stop by Tiger River to say goodbye to Keemasan Mata (Golden Eye) and Asa Rimba (Hope for the Jungle). Their sweet personalities and crazy antics will be greatly missed!

Bridget Mulholland is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

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