Guests at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Tull Family Tiger Trail were treated to a sneak peek today of a Sumatran tiger cub that is being hand-raised by animal care staff. As guests watched, the little tiger was given the opportunity to explore an outdoor area of his soon-to-be home at Tiger Trail for the first time.
Keepers from Tiger Trail and the Park’s Animal Care Center announced that the cub has been given the name Suka (pronounced SUE-ka), which means “loved” in Malay.
Once he was outdoors, the cub soon began exhibiting his natural tiger behaviors, stalking, pouncing, trying to grab onto things and crouching behind foliage—even sampling a few items before racing off again.
“Our ultimate goal is to have Suka return to the Tiger Trail exhibit full time,” said Lissa McCaffree, lead mammal keeper. “Since he’s been under intensive medical care for almost a month, we are taking things very slow. “
Currently, the cub is still residing at the Animal Care Center at the Safari Park, but keepers hope to bring him to Tiger Trail daily at noon. Guests at the Safari Park will have the opportunity to see the cub playing solo in the front exhibit at Tiger Trail, or he can be watched on Tiger Cam—along with the Park’s six other Sumatran tigers—at sdzsafaripark.org/tiger-cam. The cub is also available for viewing at the Animal Care Center—daily from 9:30 to 11:20 a.m. and again from 3 to 4:45 p.m.
With the addition of this tiny cub, the Safari Park is now home to seven Sumatran tigers. There are fewer than 350 Sumatran tigers in the wild, and that number continues to drop. Scientists estimate that this species could be extinct in its native Sumatra by 2020, unless measures are taken to protect and preserve it.
Tigers face many challenges in the wild, from loss of habitat to conflicts with humans, but the biggest threat continues to be poaching. Tigers are killed by poachers who illegally sell tiger body parts, mostly for folk remedies. People can help protect wild tigers by avoiding products made with non-sustainable palm oil, an industry that harms tiger habitat; and by refusing to purchase items made from endangered wildlife.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
Photo taken on December 7, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.