Two Sumatran Tigers can now be viewed at a brand new state-of-the-art facility at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire
After travelling 700 miles via land and sea to get to their new home at Twycross Zoo in the West Midlands, it’s no surprise that Sumatran Tigers, Jahly and Sialang weren’t feeling their best at a recent press launch. Male Sialang, in particular, we were told was taking a little longer to adjust, and understandably so. In fact, he didn’t even put in an appearance leaving it all up to his female housemate Jahly to wow the hoards of press and their families. But we’ll forgive him for that. Let’s face it, I’ve known far more celebrities be worse divas.
Both born in France, Jahly came from Boissierre Zoo, near Nantes, whilst Sialang used to live at Obterre Zoo. And they are being welcomed into a brand new state-of-the-art facility costing millions of pounds, and at 3,000m² is one of the largest purpose built Sumatran tiger habitats in the UK.
It’s a hopeful move for the Midlands conservation charity and zoo based in Leicestershire, and for global conservation efforts too, as these beautiful but critically endangered animals continue to face extinction. Sumatran tigers are prime targets for poachers, killing them for sport or their body parts, but their natural rainforest habitats are also being destroyed at rapid rates to make way for profitable palm oil plantations.
Numbers are dangerously low – in the hundreds – meaning a collaborative approach across the globe to keep genetics strong and healthy is in place. And while Twycross Zoo might not ever breed Jahly and Sialang together, keeping them safe from the dangers of the wild brings some hope to the survival of the species.
A huge space has been dedicated to the tigers and their enclosures, and plenty of viewing points get visitors right up close to these magnificent animals. And the two tigers at Twycross Zoo, now two and a half years old, will have the benefit of an indoor habitat as well as two larger outdoor enclosures, boasting a 15m glass tunnel, hot rocks and two pools.
A particular highlight is the viewing tunnel which connects the enclosures and and enables visitors to walk underneath and hopefully catch a glimpse of these big cats sat on top. The zoo officials believe that the tigers will particularly enjoy lazing in the summer sun on top of the tunnel. We were assured the glass is very well enforced so there’s absolutely no danger to the public. But it gives a breathtaking view and the chance to be just inches away from these amazing creatures.
The animals will be watched closely and cared for by a team of keepers. There are about 12-15 large mammal keepers at the zoo but the tigers will mainly looked after by a core carnivore team of about 3-4. Consistency makes a massive difference and it’s much safer, one of the keepers tells me.
Having not been to Twycross Zoo before, I was pleasantly surprised. It covers a huge area and is teaming with attractions, experiences, play areas and dining options. There’s also a huge indoor play centre if the weather turns. And then there are the animals, of course! Not only tigers, but lions, leopards and cheetahs, and it’s the only place in the UK where you can see all four types of great ape – the gorilla, orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo in one place. The zoo is home to over 500 animals in total and offers add on experiences like feed the lorikeets, walk alongside lemurs, explore Butterfly Forest and meet some of the rarest creatures on the planet from a rhino to giraffes and monkeys.
In addition, this summer a special ‘Bricklive’ Big Cats exhibit is running for the school holidays. A collection of 12 Lego brick models of the cats. A great photo opp and the kids will love how life-like they are. Visitors can see Jahly and Sialang for the first time from Saturday July 13. Throughout the whole of the Summer Holidays families can take advantage of £15 adult and £10 child admission, when booked online in advance. For more information or to buy tickets visit www.twycrosszoo.org.
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