A rare Amur tigress arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park yesterday in a bid to help save the species.
Tshuna, 3, will be introduced to one of YWP’s resident tigers Vladimir once she has acclimatised.
With only about 450 left in the wild the pair will hopefully one day have cubs and help keep the tiger population of this endangered species fit and healthy.
Tschuna was transported from Dudley Zoo to her new home in Land of the Tigers, the world’s most spectacular tiger reserve.
She is critical to future breeding and will eventually be introduced to Vladimir, who arrived in YWP in 2011.
But first Tschuna - originally hand reared at a German zoo when she was rejected by her mum - will have a few weeks to settle in to her new home, a purpose built reserve which is over 4000m², part of the 9000m² Land of the Tigers.
YWP director Cheryl Williams said: “Work will start to gradually introduce Vladimir to her when we feel the time is right.
“Vladimir is four years old and is very sociable so rangers are hopeful that he will be pleased to see Tschuna.
“Both tigers have been handpicked by the studbook keeper of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for the Amur Tiger.
“At the moment Vladimir lives with Sayan, another female tiger, but they are not currently a breeding pair.
“Vladimir will spend his time popping in and out of the two females territories and the females can also be moved into the different reserves which is enriching and exciting for them.
“In the wild tigers are solitary with a male’s territory encompassing 3 or 4 females’ territories so it is very natural to keep two females and one male. This will be very stimulating for all three tigers and along with their large, natural enclosures with mature trees, pools and hiding places, Rangers think that Tschuna will love living at YWP.”
The innovative Land of the Tigers, opened in 2011, leaves visitors almost feeling a heartbeat away from nature as they observe the animals exploring the waterfall and pools from a 100m walkway.
It is specifically designed as a breeding facility for Amur Tigers. The two main reserves have different characteristics: one has a waterfall and grassy slopes and trees, the other has a pool for the water loving cats to wallow in and a woodland hollow. There is a central house, though these cats who are designed to live out in the harsh Siberian winters, rarely seek shelter even though they have access to it all the time.
Amur Tigers are the largest of all the big cats and are critically endangered in the wild due to poaching for their skin and bones for medicines in the Far East and to loss of habitat. Yorkshire Wildlife Park supports the conservation efforts to save these beautiful animals by raising funds for ALTA (The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance) and for Wildlife Vets International.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and at risk animals, is open daily during the winter from 10.30am to 4pm (excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).