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Sumatran tiger about to clear customs


13 September 2006

Sumatran tiger about to clear customs

One of the most highly anticipated arrivals at Auckland Zoo is just days away. Sumatran tiger Oz is on his way from Israel and will touch down at Auckland Airport on Thursday, 14 September.

Twenty-month-old Oz (Hebrew for strength, courage and power) from Ramat Gan Zoo, Tel Aviv, will be transported from the airport to the zoo before undergoing health checks. All going well, Oz should be ready to start “meeting his public” early next week.

Oz’s arrival holds special significance, as he will enable the zoo to progress its captive breeding programme for this critically endangered species, which now numbers fewer than 400 in the wild. The original plan was for Oz to breed with Nisha, the zoo’s only female Sumatran tiger, but Nisha died suddenly earlier this year and her sister Molek, is heading up from Hamilton Zoo later this year to be paired with Oz.

Auckland Zoo has spent the last year preparing for Oz’s arrival. The preparations include a brand-new, state-of-the-art enclosure, which is located in the newly branded “Bakers Delight Tiger Territory”. His enclosure offers visitors to the zoo a great opportunity to see Oz through a large glass-viewing window. Carnivore’s team leader Andrew Coers says, “We designed his enclosure to maximise the experience visitors to the zoo will have. If Oz is near the front of the exhibit, you will be just metres away!”

Integral to bringing Oz to Auckland has been the zoo’s “Tiger Time” campaign, which raised money to help build the new enclosure. This campaign also contributed to the zoo’s conservation fund, which supports the 21st Century Tiger Project to protect tigers in the wild of Sumatra. Andrew says, “We see the support of this project as fundamental to assist all Sumatran tigers, and the zoo will continue to support this project.”

The introduction of the new tigers and their enclosures has also attracted a major new sponsor to Auckland Zoo – the popular baking chain Bakers Delight.

Bakers Delight Country Manager Colleen Milne says, “We are delighted to provide official support for the zoo’s new tigers – Oz and Molek. We value our new partnership with Auckland Zoo and feel a natural affinity with its family audience and wholesome values.

“We know the Bakers Delight Tiger Territory will be a wonderful addition to Auckland Zoo and hope that everyone will visit this amazing new attraction to meet them in person. We are privileged to be involved in such an important initiative that will have a significant role in saving this critically endangered species”

With just days to go before Oz arrives, the excitement for the “Tiger Team” zookeepers is high. Andrew Coers says, “We have been looking forward to and preparing for this day for over a year! I know everyone at the Zoo is excited about Oz’s arrival, including the tiger team of course! We all feel incredibly privileged to be part of what the breeding programme aims to achieve.”

Viewing of Oz in his new enclosure is subject to health and vet checks. Auckland Zoo recommends public check www.aucklandzoo.co.nz for updated information to avoid disappointment.


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