The Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, is critically endangered with fewer than 400 animals remaining in the wild and is considered to be the most vulnerable of all the remaining tiger subspecies. They tend to inhabit montane forests, peat and freshwater swamp forests and what remains of the island’s lowland forests exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The extent of a tiger's range varies according to habitat and availability of prey. It possesses acute hearing and eyesight making it an excellent predator and lives alone most of its life. A male tiger will not tolerate other males staying in his territory, but allows transient males to pass through.
Sumatra has undergone much agricultural growth over the past two decades and as a result, tiger habitat has become fragmented with tigers inhabiting five National Parks and two Game Reserves. The largest population of tigers inhabits Gunung Leuser National Park. One hundred animals live in unprotected areas that will soon be lost to agriculture. Sumatra’s lowland forests are shrinking at the rate of 2,700 sq km every year. Most of the forest losses are due to paper milling and palm oil plantations.
Calling the Phoenix Zoo home are our two Sumatran tigers, Jai and Hadiah. Jai, the male, came to Phoenix from the Louisville Zoo in 2005 and is seven years old. Hadiah, the female, was born and raised at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. She joined Jai a couple of years ago when she was still a young cat of two years of age, and is now a mature tiger at five years old. Both of the Phoenix Zoo’s tigers are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). A new tiger habitat is in the planning and fundraising stage as part of our World Class Zoo for a World Class City Capital Campaign and we look forward to providing Jai and Hadiah with a new exhibit in the near future.
Wild tiger numbers are at an all-time low with the number of tigers across their range declining by nearly 95% over the past century. The largest of all the Asian big cats may be on top of the food chain and one of the most culturally important animals in the world, but they are also facing extinction. Tigers compete for space with dense human populations, face pressure from poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss across their range.
By supporting efforts to protect and save the tiger, AZA accredited institutions and their supporters help to save the entire ecosystem and its inhabitants, including the humans that live there. The Phoenix Zoo supports conservation work in the area through the support of a training program for local conservation personnel working with elephants, as well as through the Sumatran Tiger SSP.
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