Longleat in Wiltshire has welcomed a pair of Amur tigers – the largest type of big cat in the world.
Part of a European breeding programme for this endangered sub-species, the two new arrivals are a male Amur from Norway and female named Yana from Sweden. Although they will need to be kept apart for the moment, it is hoped the pair will eventually breed and have cubs of their own.
Amur tigers are native to the far east of Russia and can weigh up to 300 kg and measure more than three metres in length.
“The tigers’ arrival went very smoothly and both are in excellent condition,” said keeper Amy Waller.
“Initially we are keeping them physically separated from each other as they settle in and become familiar with each other. The next stage is getting them to share the enclosure together.” said Amy.
“The female is called Yana but the male is currently, rather unimaginatively, named Amur so one of our first tasks will be deciding on a new name for him.
“Everyone is extremely excited to have them here and hopefully, in time, to help boost the numbers of these extraordinary animals,” she added.
Although wildlife experts believe the current population of Amur tigers is around 540 individuals, the highest for more than a century, this has not always been the case. In the 1930s it is thought that Amur tiger numbers fell to just 20–30 animals, due to hunting and logging.
There were once nine tiger subspecies, but three – the Bali, Caspian and Javan – became extinct during the 20th century. Still under severe threat, the status of the Amur tiger was officially changed from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2007.
For more information on visiting Longleat go to www.longleat.co.uk