Apple Valley, MINN – March 15, 2018 – The Minnesota Zoo recently welcomed two new female Amur tigers to the 485 acre campus in Apple Valley, MN. The two unrelated females, Aurora from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and Callisto from the Columbus Zoo, both arrived at the Zoo in November 2017 and are between one to two years of age. Both tigers can be seen in Tiger Lair along the outdoor Northern Trail. Zookeepers have been working behind the scenes to successfully create companionship between the two young tigers.
“Both females are getting along really well,” says Trista Fischer, Northern Trail assistant curator. “Callisto's mellow personality has benefited Aurora, as she has become a calmer, more confident cat. These two like to spend their days chasing each other through the snow and snuggling up in the front window of our Tiger Lair. For these girls, there is no better enrichment than a good buddy.”
The Minnesota Zoo is currently home to five endangered Amur tigers.
“The Minnesota Zoo serves as a leader in wildlife conservation around the world and is home to the Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP),” says Dr. Tara Harris, vice president for conservation and Tiger SSP coordinator. “Aurora and Calisto, along with the other Amur tigers at the Minnesota Zoo, are awe-inspiring ambassadors for their endangered wild counterparts. It’s our mission to create those invaluable connections between animals and our guests, to inspire people to care, learn more, and act to save wildlife.”
The largest of all cats, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. Its thick fur protects it against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while its stripes help render it invisible to prey. Amur tigers are carnivores, eating mostly large mammals such as deer and wild boar. They will travel over extensive forest territories in search of food. With its stealth, speed, and sheer strength, the Amur tiger is well-suited to its role as a hunter.
Poaching of the tigers themselves and their prey is the primary threat to the Amur tiger’s survival. Due to conservation efforts, Amur tiger numbers have increased from as low as 20 or 30 around 1940 to approximately 500 today. Through the Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign, the Minnesota Zoo supports efforts to improve anti-poaching patrols in the Russian Far East and to close old logging roads in order to prevent poacher access.
Coordinated by Minnesota Zoo staff since its initiation in 2012, the Tiger SSP’s Tiger Conservation Campaign and its supporters have raised nearly $1 million for on-the-ground projects that are helping save wild tigers. The public can learn about and contribute to these efforts by visiting tigercampaign.org and facebook.com/tigercampaign.
The Minnesota Zoo is also one of 15 coalition members that comprise the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (altaconservation.org). These coalition members pool their resources to help support conservation efforts for wild Amur tigers and leopards. Funds contributed by the Minnesota Zoo have helped monitor wild populations of these highly-endangered cats in the Russian Far East.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).