EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Two tigers are slowly being introduced to each other at the El Paso Zoo in hopes of prolonging the genetic diversity of the Malayan Tiger population.
HOLAN, the male tiger, arrived at the El Paso Zoo about six months ago and has already met Syri, the female tiger. According to zookeepers, the two are already getting along.
“He is such a sweetheart. He is very friendly with the keepers. He is always interested and playful with his enrichment. He what we call ‘chucks’ at Syri quite a bit. Tigers can’t actually purr, so when they greet one another friendly like, they do it with a chuck. Both of them, when they are inside next to each other, they chuck a lot with each other,” said Katie Robertson, one of the zookeepers at the El Paso Zoo.
Even with signs that they are interested in each other, the process of them having cubs can take a long time.
“When we do start putting them together for breeding purposes. We are very hopeful that the chances are high that they will have cubs. It will be a while yet. Introducing large carnivores, especially like tigers, that are solitary animals,” said Robertson.
The El Paso Zoo residents are Malayan tigers. Robertson said it is a very small subgroup of tigers.
“Most tigers are critically endangered. A lot of them are losing their habitat due to logging, farming and general infrastructure building and construction,” she said. “Most zoos, especially AZA-accredited zoos, most of the critically endangered animals, are involved in a breeding program and that’s to prolong the genetic diversity and the genetics of the animals themselves.”
Find out more on the zoo’s website.