Sumatran tiger makes debut at Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo

Jan 6, 2023, 11:36 AM | Updated: 12:05 pm
Sumatran tiger...
Sanjiv, the Sumatran tiger, makes his debut at the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo this weekend. (Photo courtesy Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo)
(Photo courtesy Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo)

One of the most majestic creatures on Earth can now be seen at the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo.

An 11-year-old, 286-pound male Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv (pronounced sun-jeev) made his debut Friday. The plan calls for Sanjiv to father cubs with either of the zoo’s female tigers.

“We’re excited to have Sanjiv join our animal family at Point Defiance,” said Asian Animal Curator Telena Welsh. “Over the coming months, we’ll gradually introduce him to Kali and Indah and closely monitor their behavior to ensure that all three cats are comfortable.”

Sanjiv has bred successfully in the past, fathering four cubs in 2019. The tiger arrived in December from Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center.

Guests can meet Sanjiv in the zoo’s Asian Forest Sanctuary on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and talk with the keepers who care for him at daily keeper chats.

Point Defiance Zoo introduces two young walruses from Québec

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, there are estimated to be fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers in the world today. They are holding on for survival in the remaining patches of forest on the island of Sumatra.

Accelerating deforestation and rampant poaching mean the tigers could end up extinct like their Javan and Balinese counterparts. Sumatran tigers are the only surviving subspecies of the Sunda Island tigers, after the Bali and Javan tigers were hunted to extinction, and they are distinguished by heavy black stripes on their orange coats.

There are only approximately 72 Sumatran tigers living in accredited North American zoos.

“We’re working hard to protect and boost the population of this critically endangered species, and the genetics of these three tigers are very valuable,” said Zoo General Curator Dr. Karen Goodrowe Beck. “Species Survival Plans help ensure a healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining population to ensure the long-term future of these majestic big cats.”

In a major win for tigers, a new law will help prevent captive tigers from ending up in the illegal trade of their parts and products.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act will help ensure the welfare of captive big cats and public safety by requiring facilities to obtain a federal permit for big cat ownership. This should provide more information on who owns them, when they’re sold or traded, and what happens to their parts when they die.

Nearly 690,000 WWF-US activists have sent messages to Congress championing tighter regulations and stronger protections for captive tigers.

Point Defiance Zoo is known to be a national leader in conserving wild Sumatran tigers and other endangered species. Donations of more than $142,000 from The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund have helped support efforts to mitigate human-tiger conflict and to arrest and prosecute poachers in Sumatra.

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Sumatran tiger makes debut at Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo