No two tigers have the same stripes. The skin as well as the fur shows the animal’s unique striping pattern.
Where at the Zoo
Where in the World
Panthera tigris altaica
The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. With thick fur, and padded paws, this northern cat is well protected against the bone-chilling cold and icy winds of winter.
What They Eat
Where They Live
What They Do
How They’re Doing
Where at the Zoo
Where in the World
Care at the Zoo
The 4-acre tiger exhibit is divided into two parts. The 1-acre moat exhibit features a tiger lair viewing area. The 2-acre pier exhibit features a tiger base camp interpretation area. A greenway in between provides a buffer zone so the tigers will not pace the back of their exhibit to challenge one another. The tiger barn holds 11 indoor enclosures connected to five outdoor. The breeding cages are equipped with a “howdy door” that allows a breeding pair to see each other before they are allowed access to each other. Tigers are rotated to the large outside exhibits every other day. They are fed about 10 pounds per day of a prepared horsemeat diet inside the tiger barn at night.
Enrichment for the tigers is very important. We may give a tiger a cardboard box to pounce upon and shred. In the summer time we freeze bones into pails of water, then throw the “bonesicles” into the moat to encourage activity. We fill balloons with water and freeze them, then remove the balloon and place the frozen ball in the exhibit. Bones are given at least twice a week. The tigers show great interest in Obsession and Charlie perfumes, which are sprayed on trees and rocks in the exhibit area.
Although Amur tiger populations in Russia have increased during the past several decades to over 400 individuals, tigers elsewhere have not fared as well. The primary problem faced today by tigers across Asia is the loss of habitat and associated loss of prey. In the past 20 years 60% of tiger habitat has been lost and tiger numbers reduced by 50%.
Habitat destruction has resulted in islands of tiger habitat surrounded by developed areas. This isolates small tiger populations from each other. Most of these tiger populations contain fewer than 50 tigers and are too small for long-term survival in the face of threats such as disease, forest fires, and inbreeding.
Poaching for body parts used in medicinal products and poisoning also threatens tiger populations. This also is related to habitat loss as roads provide access for poaching tigers.
The Minnesota Zoo has long been a world leader in tiger conservation. For more information, see the following pages:
Home of the Tiger Species Survival Plan
Zoos work together to manage captive tigers. In North America management is coordinated through the Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, which is led by the Minnesota Zoo’s conservation director. The Tiger SSP manages about 150 Amur tigers in North America, as well as about 75 Sumatran tigers, 50 Malayan tigers, and 100 so-called “generic” tigers that are mixtures of different subspecies.
Over the years, the Minnesota Zoo has hosted a number of tiger conservation activities and has contributed to many efforts (see history of conservation). Since its opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has produced nearly 40 tiger cubs and we have sent tigers to 26 zoos around the world.
Range and Habitat
Habits and Adaptations
Tigers hunt mainly alone and at night. Their most favored prey are medium-sized deer and wild boar. They usually capture their prey by stalking to within short distances and charging the unsuspecting animal from the rear. Small prey is killed by a neck bite. Larger prey is grasped by the jaws and forelegs and, once pulled down, the tiger grasps its throat and suffocates it. Tigers often drag or carry their prey to an area of dense cover, then begin eating at the prey animal’s rump. If they can’t finish the meal, they will hide the remains from scavengers by covering them with plants or debris.
Communication and Interaction
Eat and Be Eaten
In the wild, males mature at 4–5 years of age and females mature at 3–4. Females produce litters every 3–4 years. Tigers live probably less than 12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.