Tiger comes out to play

Tiger comes out to play

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A rare Sumatran tiger, Kabus, has emerged to explore his outdoor enclosure.

The young male tiger, from Chessington Zoo, is 19-months-old and since the initiation of the global tiger studbook in 1967, is the first tiger to live in Belfast Zoo as part of a European breeding programme.

Curious Kabus prowled around his paddock searching for food parcels of pheasant and cow’s heart. The keepers left food for him to search and find as he explored all four corners of the 2,000 metre squared grassy paddock. The tiger’s area has a water moat and three wooden raised platforms used for exercise and sleeping.

Julie Mansell, curator at the zoo, said: “Kabus is a joy to watch. He is a young, healthy, feisty, and curious big cat who displays great characteristics of prowling and stalking.

“Even a bird that would land inside the paddock is not safe. He is currently understanding his new space but has yet to dip his paw in the water moat.”

Mark Challis, zoo manager, is delighted with the new addition to the zoo stock.

“Kabus is a visually striking animal who will grow and mature over the next few years,” he said.

“We look forward to introducing a female from a Spanish zoo and watching them both grow and mature together.”

The international origin of this rare animal is not immediately obvious, for it began with mum Ratna who was born in Dublin Zoo in 2003. After a transfer to a new home in Chessington Zoo, England, mum Ratna was introduced to German tiger, Batu, from Berlin. The joyful union produced baby Kabus who was born on February 20, 2008, to proud Irish and German parents and so was named after the grey and misty morning on which he was born. The name Kabus means grey in Malay.

Kabus has come to Belfast where he will meet a Spanish lovely next year and continue the success of the breeding programme that began with the birth of his mother six years ago in Dublin.

There are less than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, and only 250 in zoos worldwide.

Sumatran tigers are classified as critically endangered on the 2009 IUCN red list for endangered species, and listed in appendix I of CITES, the convention protecting the international trade of endangered animals.

Although it is illegal to kill a Sumatran tiger, they still face the threat of habitat loss, hunting and poaching, and many are killed to make medicinal products and for their bones.

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the remaining six sub-species of tigers.

The zoo opens at 10am every day. Last admission is 2.30pm.




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