Helping Big Cats

The Zoo recently continued its support of the Tiger Conservation Campaign as a major sponsor in 2015. The Campaign will distribute money donated by the Virginia Zoo and others to fund major projects, all of which are working towards wild tiger conservation and supporting sustainable captive tiger populations.

There are six subspecies of tigers alive today and three that went extinct in the 20th century. At the Virginia Zoo we have Malayan tigers, which are listed as endangered with wild numbers reaching about 500 individuals. Major threats to Malayan tigers include poaching, habitat loss, dimishing prey (also due to poaching and habitat loss) and conflict with humans.

In the spring of 2015 Dr. Tara Harris, the AZA Tiger SSP Coordinator and Vice President for Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia to asses the state of wild tiger populations. In addition to field work, she met with government officials to discuss possible partnerships that could help both wild tigers and tigers in American zoos. Dr. Harris reported back that while habitat loss was still an issue, an anti-poaching project instituted by the Campaign has been showing signs of success and the population of Malayan tigers in the Endau-Rompin National Park is increasing. You can read more about Dr. Harris’ trip on the Minnesota Zoo’s blog.

By contributing to the work of projects like the Tiger Conservation Campaign, the Zoo is able to help support not just animals, but people and ecosystems too. Tiger conservation has a trickle down effect. By preserving their habitats we’re also saving hundreds of other species of plants and animals.

Want to learn more about tigers? Don’t miss our celebration of Global Tiger Day on July 25. There will be discovery stations, fun activities, and trail hosts throughout Asia – Trail of the Tiger. Get to know more about Api and Christopher, the Zoo’s breeding pair of Malayan tigers, as well as what you can do to help their counterparts in the wild.