July 29th is World Tiger Day! You can find two species at our Zoo in Land of the Tiger: Malayan tigers and Sumatran tigers. Both species are listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. World Tiger Day is a perfect day to celebrate the tigers here and bring awareness to the difficulties their wild populations face.
The Zoo has one male and one female Malayan tiger. The Malayan tiger has only been considered as a species for 17 years. They were thought to be the same as Indochinese tigers until a DNA analysis was performed. Their coloration and stripes allow for the perfect camouflage in the Malay Peninsula. This adaptation allows the Malayan tigers to blend into their surroundings before ambushing their prey. They have lots of patience, silently and slowly stalking their prey until the perfect moment. The ambush hunting method allows for the best success in a meal, due to their ability to camouflage and their short burst sprints of up to 40 miles per hour. They tend to eat one large prey item a week, which may include deer, monkeys, tapirs, wild boar and pigs. Here at the Zoo, they are fed a lean-in-fat meat and provided separate food enrichment. Knuckle bones are one of their favorite food enrichment items and helps them strengthen their teeth.
The Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the tiger subspecies. The Zoo has two females, a mom and her daughter. You may hear them communicating with each other through chuffs, moans, and roars when you visit Land of the Tiger. Each type of vocalization has a different meaning and allows the two to exchange information about their surroundings. You can tell Sumatran tigers apart from the other tiger subspecies by their distinctive beard and mane. They can also be differentiated by their dark orange coloration and narrow stripes. Unlike most cat species, tigers love the water. Their webbed feet allow them to be powerful swimmers. They also use the water as a cooling effect like humans do with a day at the pool.
Come by and celebrate World Tiger Day with us! You can also paint your thumbs orange and outline some of your thumbprint with black stripes. Just like our thumb prints, a tiger’s stripe pattern is unique to each individual. Upload your pictures and use #ThumbsUpForTigers #jacksonvillezoo to spread tiger awareness.