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OF THE WEEK
Once known as the Siberian tiger because of where it lived, it is now referred to as the Amur, named after the Amur River in Russia where many of these tigers now live. read more >

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05-21-2009

Isn’t a Tiger Just a Tiger?

Many people may be wondering, “Isn’t a tiger just a tiger?” What makes one different from another one? There are many, sometimes subtle, differences within the tiger species that categorize them into one of nine established subspecies. The nine subspecies, three of which are extinct, consist of: Amur, Balinese (extinct), Bengal, Caspian (extinct), Indochinese, Javan (extinct), Malayan, South China, and Sumatran.

The Amur tiger, sometimes referred to as the Siberian tiger, is not only the largest member of all the tiger subspecies, but also of the entire Felidae, or cat, family. Male Amur tigers typically range between 500-700 pounds and females between 200-400 pounds. Generally by the age of 6 months, an Amur tiger cub can be as large as a full-grown leopard.

The wild Amur tiger population is completely confined to the Amur-Ussuri region of the Russian Far East. These tigers particularly depend on red deer and wild boar as their main food source. However, they will also prey on moose, sika deer, hares, fish and even brown and black bears. It has even been documented that certain tigers have been seen imitating the calls of Asiatic black bears to help attract them for prey opportunities.

As it stands now, the Amur tiger is still critically endangered. In the mid 1980s it was estimated that only 250 individuals composed the entire wild Amur tiger population. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, illegal deforestation and poaching became much easier practices, aiding the demise of the Amur tiger. However in 1992, the Siberian Tiger Project was founded. Through its conservation efforts, such as anti-poaching patrols and activities to reduce habitat depletion, the Amur tiger has experienced a steady recovery.

The Malayan tiger is a recent addition to the list of tiger subspecies. It wasn’t until 2004 that this particular tiger was considered to be an entirely different subspecies. It is natively found in the central and southern parts of the Malay Peninsula. It is one of the smallest extant, or existing, subspecies of tigers, with males averaging 256 pounds and females 220 pounds.

While still facing the status of being endangered, the wild Malayan tiger population, which consists of approximately 600-800 individuals, is thought to be one of the largest tiger populations in the world. Right now there is still much to be learned about the newly classified Malayan tiger.

We are proud to introduce you to these amazing tigers. Come out and get face to face with these secretive creatures through one of our several glass-viewing ports. You can also enjoy a good elevated view of the larger of our two tiger yards from our very own lookout tower. Beginning June 1 there will also be daily Tiger Talk sessions held inside the Tiger Reserve Lodge. These talks will consist of a tiger training session and will give our guests the chance to ask questions and hear about some of the largest cats in the world. So instead of taking a journey to the Far East to get a glimpse of these magnificent animals, just take a short trek to Sedgwick County Zoo.

Where does the distinctive white tiger fit into this classification?
The white tiger is in fact not a separate species of tiger, but actually the result of a recessive gene that produces a color mutation. This well-known mutation is rarely seen in wild tiger populations and only approximately one in 10,000 tiger births actually carry the particular gene. To get white tigers, these animals are purposely bred, largely through inbreeding, to keep the mutation alive. As a result of the inbreeding, these tigers are born with a predisposition to having certain physical deformities. These deformities typically consist of cleft palates, scoliosis and crossed eyes. Even the apparently healthy white tigers still have a reduced lifespan when compared to their orange counterparts.
 

05-21-2009

Lesser but Still Amazing

When people hear the word panda, they generally associate it with a large black and white bear. However, the red panda has a strikingly different appearance from the giant panda. The red panda, also sometimes referred to as the lesser panda, is slightly larger than a domestic cat and weighs between 12 and 20 pounds. Red pandas have thick, rusty red fur with distinctive white markings on the face, giving them a raccoon-like appearance. They predominantly live in trees and are native to the cool mountain forests of the Himalayas, located in the southern and southeastern parts of Asia.

The red panda, like the giant panda, is a specialized bamboo feeder. Approximately two-thirds of a red panda’s total diet consists of bamboo alone. The other portion is made up of fruit, grasses, and roots. Red pandas will also supplement their diet with insects, eggs, small birds, and rodents. Since bamboo is their main food source, red pandas, like giant pandas, have the unique characteristic of having a “false thumb.” This extension of one of their wrist bones allows them to grasp bamboo shoots with more ease, aiding in the feeding process.

Red pandas are typically solitary, crepuscular animals, which mean they are mostly active during the hours of dawn and dusk. They can usually be found resting in the branches of trees or in tree hollows for most of the day. Come nighttime though, they will usually descend from the treetops to search for food on the ground and consume water. One might think that the red panda would drink by lapping water like a dog or a cat; however, they actually do so by submerging one of their front paws and then licking the water from it.

Like its larger counterpart, the red panda is also considered to be an endangered animal. There is estimated to be fewer than 2,500 individuals that make up the wild red panda population, and those numbers continue to decline. Habitat destruction and fragmentation is a big problem facing the wild population. Not only are their homes being destroyed, but their vital food source, bamboo, is being depleted as well. Poaching is yet another hurdle on their road to recovery. Their fur is highly valued in some cultures and they are being hunted to help supply the illegal pet trade.

Sedgwick County Zoo is proud to introduce you to the red panda. Her new home will provide her with several elevated climbing structures and even hollow logs she can curl up in if she so desires. She will also have access to a hollow denning log equipped with its own air conditioner, which will make her more comfortable during the hot Kansas summers. If you come out during the day, it’s likely you will see her lounging around in her tree or in the hollow logs. Since red pandas are typically more active during the morning and evening hours, you might want to take advantage of our later hours during Twilight Tuesdays. Beginning the first week of June and lasting through the month of August, when the Zoo will be open until 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening. This may give you a unique opportunity to fully observe the panda that is lesser, but still very amazing.

05-21-2009

The Progression of a Forest

In conjunction with the opening of the Slawson Family Tiger Trek, the existing Asian Forest received a well-deserved renovation. The Horticulture department spent countless hours on rockwork, planting, and landscaping to give the exhibit a fresh new look.

As you enter the forest you will hear the chatter of several different species of birds. You will be able to see demoiselle cranes, white storks, bar-headed geese, ruddy shelducks, and many other species of waterfowl scurrying about.

The Asian Forest is also home to the Indian muntjac. Sedgwick County Zoo currently has two of this small Asian deer species roaming within the confines of the exhibit. Ed and Annie can be quite stealthy at times and hard to find. Occasionally though, you will find them exploring and bounding around their newly updated home.

Lastly, it’s a pig…it’s an anteater…no, it’s a tapir! The Malayan tapir is one of the species at the Zoo that gets several confused looks from admiring guests. We currently have two tapirs, Ally and Binny, in the Asian Forest. Since tapirs are very fond of water, you will probably see them spending quite a bit of time cooling off and swimming around in their exhibit’s water feature. Usually if they’re not in the water, they are enjoying a good nap in the shade.

So on your next trip out, be sure to stop by and enjoy the new look of the Asian Forest. Whether you take a leisurely stroll or want to sit and relax awhile, just enjoy immersing yourself in a little part of Asia.

Hours of Operation
Summer Hours8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Beginning March 1)
Winter Hours10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Beginning November 1)
Open 364 Days a Year!*
*The Zoo will be closed one day only, September 6, 2014 to facilitate the preparation of the annual Zoo fundraiser, Zoobilee. For Zoobilee ticket information please call 266-8APE (8273).
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