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Molek part of global effort for Sumatran tigers

AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL MEDIA RELEASE

18 October 2006

Zoo's new arrival Molek part of global effort for Sumatran tigers

Sumatran tiger Molek, a mate for male Oz, has arrived at Auckland Zoo to progress the international captive breeding programme for this critically endangered big cat, now numbering fewer than 400 in the wild. While breeding will be a priority, of equally high importance will be advocacy and growing the direct support role the Zoo plays for Molek and Oz's cousins in the wild, via the 21st Century Tiger project - Kerenci Seblat National Park.

Yesterday afternoon six-year-old Molek was transported from Hamilton Zoo, and moved into a separate enclosure alongside Israeli-born Oz at the new Bakers Delight Tiger Territory. Keepers expect Molek's renowned vocalisations will quickly attract the attentions of Oz. However, being solitary animals requiring their own territory, keepers will facilitate a very gradual introduction to help minimise the risks involved.

"Once adequately acquainted, mating needs to be timed with Molek's cycle and take place on her turf," says Auckland Zoo carnivore keeper Sandra Rice. A breeding pair of Sumatran tigers is a first for Auckland Zoo, and a decision decided on in collaboration with regional partners, the Australasian Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and European Association of Zoos & Aquaria (EAZA). Potential offspring will go to other zoos in these regions. Worldwide, there are fewer than 200 Sumatran tigers in captive (zoo) facilities, 24 are in Australasia.

"This is a great opportunity for us to contribute to the Sumantran tiger population outside of Indonesia, and our thanks go to the support of our close partner, Hamilton Zoo," says Auckland Zoo curator, Brooke Noonan.

"Captive breeding is a genetic banking exercise that zoos just can't afford not to do, given the drastic drop in wild populations from illegal poaching and destruction of Sumatran rainforest for commercial and illegal logging, and palm oil plantations. At the current rate, not only could the world lose the Sumatran tiger in under 15 years, but also the Sumatran orang utan."

But captive breeding for any endangered species is an insurance policy, not a solution. To contribute to solving the underlying problems, zoos are increasingly working together and with other organisations, to support conservation projects (local and overseas) in the wild - as is being done with the Sumatran tiger. Through its Conservation Fund, Auckland Zoo has joined with already supporting ARAZPA and EAZA partners, to financially support the 21st Century Tiger project's Kerinci Seblat National Park. “We hope that seeing these beautiful cats at the stunning new Bakers Delight Tiger Territory and taking the time to learn about the Sumatran tiger story told here, will give visitors a great experience - and one that will inspire them to want to make a practical difference,” says Brooke Noonan.

Auckland Zoo’s Tiger Welcome Weekend this Labour Weekend, and upcoming Conservation Fund event, 'Cocktails for Cats' at Ivy Bar in Kingsland on 4 November, are ways people can support Sumatran tigers. For further details about these events and the Zoo’s new tigers Oz and Molek, visit www.aucklandzoo.co.nz ENDS For further information, please contact: Jane Healy, communications & promotions co-ordinator Auckland Zoo. ph (09) 360-3804 or 027 291 9773 ABOUT AUCKLAND ZOO Auckland Zoo is an enterprise of Auckland City. It is home to the largest collection of native and exotic wildlife species in New Zealand (over 1900 animals and 200 species) and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It is becoming increasingly well known nationally and internationally through the award-winning television programme, 'The Zoo'. At the heart of all Auckland Zoo's work and activities is its MISSION: "to focus the Zoo’s resources to benefit conservation and provide exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment". Auckland Zoo is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).

ACT LOCAL, THINK GLOBAL Wherever you live, how you use and care for the environment has flow-on effects. Here are some easy, practical ways you can assist Sumatran tigers, and all other animals in the wild: Don't buy products from companies that destroy natural habitat. In the case of timber, look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

Be aware Kwila and teak are two tropical rainforest timbers, often harvested illegally and sold as furniture here in NZ Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and where you can walk or use public transport Don't buy products that support animal testing Never purchase animal products or parts when overseas - i.e. corals, ivory, 'medicines' that contain animal products Find out about sustainable palm oil by visiting: www.palmoil.org.uk www.rspo.org www.grasp.org.au

21st Century’s Kerinci Seblat National Park World Heritage Site Kerinci Seblat National Park 14,000km is one of the most important conservation areas in South-east Asia, that due to its large areas with natural prey and fewer predators, holds the best hope for long-term tiger conservation. Its Tiger Protection and Conservation Units work to halt the poaching and trafficking of tigers and work alongside villagers to prevent tiger-human conflict. Since its launch in 2000, the project has had significant successes.

ENDS

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