The View from the Zoo column with James Coleman

The three Sumatran Tigers at Flamingo Land.
The three Sumatran Tigers at Flamingo Land.

On Sunday (29 July) we will be celebrating International Tiger Day! Here at Flamingo Land we are very lucky to have a family of three critically endangered Sumatran Tigers.

We have a nine year old male called Bawa, a nine year old female called Surya and lastly their 10 month old female cub called Menya.

International Tiger Day was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.

The aim of the day is to promote a worldwide system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

Here at Flamingo Land we have a daily Sumatran Tiger talk at 1.30pm which involves explaining how our tigers are looked after, why we have them and the threats they face in the wild.

We also try to coincide their feeding time during the talk.

The biggest threats to this iconic species are, unfortunately, caused by us. There are currently only six species of tiger left in the wild whereas there used to be nine.

Caspian, Bali and Javan Tigers are already extinct while Sumatran, Bengal, Malayan, South China, Indochinese and Amur Tigers are sadly either endangered or critically endangered.

With only roughly 3,500 tigers left in their natural habitat we generally have the same number of visitors in Flamingo Land each day in summer then there are wild tigers!

They all suffer from loss of habitat and this is due to the increase in demand of palm oil and its plantations. These plantation the mass removal of rainforest which is the tiger’s home.

There are protected areas and it is illegal to hunt tigers however unfortunately it does still occur.

The demand to use tiger body parts as medicine is still a huge problem and it has been proven that they have no medicinal value whatsoever.

This is why international captive breeding programmes have become so important for this species. Menya is the forth cub that Surya and Bawa have had. The other three have since moved on to other zoo’s, one of which their son Kuasa has also fathered his own cub.

With only 350 individuals left in the wild, every Sumatran Tiger cub born makes a huge difference to help preserve this iconic and beautiful animal.