The Virginia Zoo announced the departure of their current tigers to make room for a new pair of tigers. The tigress, Claireborne, hails from New York’s Bronx Zoo. Her male counterpart, Christopher, will come from the San Diego Zoo.
“Christopher and Claireborne will help us establish a successful long-term tiger breeding program at the Virginia Zoo,” said Greg Bockheim, the Zoo’s executive director.
In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the Malayan tiger as an endangered species. The adult population of this species was estimated to be between 493 and 1,480 in 2003.
“Contributing to the long-term survival of threatened species is one of the Zoo’s core missions,” Bockheim said. “We look forward to helping maintain a stable breeding population in North American zoos and learning more about their behavior and how we might help their conservation worldwide.”
Much of the reason for the dwindling population of Malayan tigers is due to habitat fragmentation. Development projects, agricultural expansion and commercial poaching pose great threats to the breeding grounds of the tigers.
“The Virginia Zoo’s tiger facility was designed with breeding in mind,” Bockheim said.
According to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, the tigers are sought after for their meat and bones to use for medicine, cooking, charms and decorations, and also for the male reproductive organ to use as an aphrodisiac.
The new tigers are expected in a few weeks once transportation is secured.
By: Patrick Reilly