London Zoo’s new Tiger Territory: built for the animals first, and visitors second.
The new Tiger Territory at London Zoo is home to a pair of critically-endangered Sumatran tigers, where the 186-year-old site has undergone a massive redevelopment to make way for the 2,500sqm enclosure.
Five times the size of the previous tiger enclosure, the new exhibit has been designed with ZSL’s team of tiger keepers, conservationists and experts to ensure that it perfectly suits the big cats’ needs. “Tigers are avid climbers,” explains Robin Fitzgerald, the zoo’s projects manager. “They like to observe their terrain from a towering vantage point, so we’ve given them a habitat that lets them do exactly that – with a view out over Regent’s Park.” Describing how the poles and canopy support each other, he adds: “It’s basically circus tent technology.”
Unusually for cats, tigers love water, and visitors will be able to see them hanging out in their custom-built pool. When they’re not playing in the water, the tigers will have all-day access to indoor dens where visitors will be able to see the big cats relaxing.
Carefully planted to mimic the tropical foliage of the island of Sumatra, the London Zoo’s team of expert horticulturalists studied images of native Indonesian flora, taken by zookeeper Teague Stubbington on a recent visit to ZSL’s tiger conservation project.
Working around the world to try to reverse the fate of the Sumatran tiger, Tiger Territory will enable ZSL to breed tigers at ZSL London Zoo and learn more about these elusive animals to apply to its field conservation projects.
The European breeding programme and the Global Management Species Programme for Sumatran tigers are both coordinated by ZSL London Zoo – where ZSL’s specialists are responsible for ensuring a healthy and diverse population of tigers in zoos around the world.
Tiger Territory will inform and inspire a generation of people to treasure the tiger and understand their role in its survival. It will also help fund ZSL’s tiger conservation work in the field, providing a lifeline for years to come.
With Tiger Territory, 2013 is set to be the year of the tiger at ZSL London Zoo.
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