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Siberian Tiger is Just Chilling Out

News Article, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Article By: Dave Roberts

First Published: 5 June 2011

If you're natural home is the sub-zero climatic region of Siberia, and you are experiencing a 25c heatwave, then it's only natural that you will want to cool down a bit, and that's just what this big cat was doing yesterday.

But this was no tropical location, these images of the Siberian Tiger named Sayan were captured at the recently opened Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster, where two tigers have taken up residence in a huge state-of-the-art tiger reserve, which by the end of the year will be home for two pairs of endangered Amur (Siberian) Tigers.

The Amur Tiger is the largest big cat in the world. Threatened by habitat loss and poachers, this species of tiger is critically endangered with fewer than 400 animals thought still to survive in the wild.

Cheryl Williams from Yorkshire Wildlife Park told me:

"The temperatures were soaring and at around 25 degrees, it was a bit hot for her with a thick coat designed for colder climes.

"Tigers love water anyway, and even on the colder days Sayan had been seen in her pool.

"I am sure she felt better for it!"

Directors at Doncaster's award-winning walk-through safari park have been working for over 12 months with the studbook keeper for Amur Tiger European Breeding Programme to identify the four individuals that could come to Yorkshire from other zoos and parks from around Europe. Tigers in the breeding programme are selected for their suitability and genetic diversity for the breeding programme. Moves and breeding recommendations are made by the studbook keeper who coordinates the whole programme.

Two pools and a waterfall for the water loving tigers feature in the tigers' new home, which has been created at the park alongside a natural British Nature wetlands reserve. Viewing for visitors is along a stunning 150m walkway with views to one side of the endangered cats and from the other side to the endangered British wetland habitat and the rich bird and animal life that lives there. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is working closely with biodiversity experts and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to protect and encourage biodiversity in the wetland habitat at the Park.

The first two tigers of the endangered breed have moved into the new reserve Land of the Tiger. They will be separate at first in adjacent reserves while they get used to their new surroundings and each other before they are finally introduced to each other. Once they are settled, YWP will welcome the second pair. The tigers will live as pairs, as unlike lions, they are not a social cat that lives in large groups. It is hoped in the future, the tigers will make their own contribution to the European breeding programme.

The first tiger to arrive was a young two year old male tiger called Vladimir who travelled to Doncaster from the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie in February. The second tiger Sayan arrived just last week from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent. The tigress Sayan is three years old. Both are settling in well and are exploring their new reserves.

Animal Director John Minion said, "We are all excited about the first tigers coming to Yorkshire Wildlife Park and being involved with their conservation on an international level. This is another big milestone for the Park."

Yorkshire Wildlife Park, the park behind the massive rescue of 13 lions from a rundown Romanian zoo last February, has plans to work closely with Tiger Conservationists to help tigers in the wild, raising awareness and funds to support the endangered animals through 21st Century Tiger. This charity supports various projects for tigers across their range states.

Park Director Cheryl Williams explained "This is a very different project from the Lion Rescue, which was based on animal welfare. This is a conservation project and we shall work with the European breeding programme and other zoos and parks which hold tigers and also with those who are doing work out in the wild ranges of the tigers that is so important for the survival of these magnificent animals in the wild."

All five subspecies of tiger (Amur, Bengal, Sumatran, Indochinese and South China) are listed as critically endangered. On February 2nd 2011 the Chinese Year of the Tiger draws to a close. It has been 12 years since the last Year of the Tiger. During that time it is estimated that wild tigers numbers have halved to fewer than 3200.

David Friesner, Welcome to Yorkshire's Area Director for South Yorkshire, said:

"YWP has established itself as one of the country's leading wildlife parks and the addition of this tiger reserve will no doubt draw even more visitors from far and wide.

"I am sure this will be a huge success and play a role in helping attract even more visitors to South Yorkshire and its wide variety of family attractions"

Yorkshire Wildlife Park Website for visitor information: http://www.yorkshirewildlifepark.co.uk/





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