New Sumatran tiger lurks at Point Defiance Zoo
A new Sumatran tiger is roaming the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and authorities hope it plays well with the ladies.
Raja is 2 years old, weighs 295 pounds, and is a laid-back cat who enjoys rolling around in the grass and watching the tapirs in their nearby enclosure. He is from the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center in Kansas.
Now that he lives in Tacoma, the Guardians are hoping that Raja will eventually mate with one of the female tigers in the zoo, sisters Kali, 8 years old; Kirana, 6 years old; or Indah, 6.
“We are working hard to protect and increase the population of this critically endangered species, and Raja’s genetics are very valuable,” said Karen Goodrowe-Beck, general curator of the zoo and coordinator of the Species Survival Plan for tigers in North American zoos.
There are only about 75 Sumatran tigers in accredited zoos in North America. About 400 remain in the wild on their native Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Few baby Sumatran tigers have been born in recent years, Goodrowe-Beck said. The last litter at the Point Defiance Zoo was six years ago, when Kirana and Indah were born.
Although Raja is old enough to spawn a litter, tigers usually don’t mate until they are 3 years old. The keepers are also waiting to see if Raja hooks up with any of the female tigers.
He has been introduced to Kali, Kirana and Indah through a wire enclosure but has not yet been with any of them.
So far her favorite seems to be Indah.
Guardians say the two rub frequently and both rub against the mesh that separates them.
Visitors can see Raja this weekend at the Asian Forest Sanctuary. Tigers are generally most active in the morning, so this may be the best time to see it.
“He’s a young boy who likes to play with anything and everything,” said goalie Telena Welsh. âHe’s very interactive with the goalies and loves to train. It is starting to thrive in the configuration that we have here.