Virginia Zoo’s Asia Trail Has New Residents

NORFOLK, VA – The Virginia Zoo’s Asia – Trail of the Tiger has new residents on exhibit. In mid-August, female Malayan tiger Cahaya explored her exhibit for the first time and early last week, female red pandas, Bo and Natasha, were introduced to their newly renovated exhibit.

Cahaya arrived at the Zoo in late May as a Species Survival Plan® pairing for Christopher, the Zoo’s 11-year-old male Malayan tiger. After a routine quarantine period, she was able to make her debut on exhibit. She was born May 12, 2020, at the Palm Beach Zoo – to mom Api who also gave birth to past Virginia Zoo residents, brothers Osceola and Stubbley. Despite being connected through the SSP®, Christopher and Cahaya are not blood relatives and have been deemed an ideal match for the breeding program. This pairing is imperative as Malayan tigers are critically endangered. The pair are not expected to be introduced to each other for some time due to Cahaya’s young age and tigers’ solitary nature, but Zoo visitors can expect to see either tiger on exhibit daily as Keepers will offer them each their own access to roam the habitat.

Red panda, Bo, who has been at the Virginia Zoo since May 2018, has been living behind the scenes at the Animal Wellness Campus (AWC) while the red panda exhibit went under renovation. Natasha, who turned one year old on June 21, joined Bo at AWC in early spring where they became acquainted with one another. Natasha was sent to the Zoo through the Species Survival Plan® recommendation for a possible future breeding recommendation. The females can be distinguished by their fur coloring; Bo’s fur is a darker shade compared to Natasha, who has a lighter hue to her fur.

Cahaya, Bo, and Natasha can all be seen on exhibit along the Asia – Trail of the Tiger.

About Malayan tigers

One of six subspecies of tigers, Malayan tigers are native to southern and central Malaysia. Adult males of this species average 260 pounds, with females weighing 220 pounds. It is estimated that there are less than 350 individuals in this critically endangered species, which faces threats such as human conflict, poaching for pelts, capture for the illegal pet trade and habitat destruction including the clearing of land for palm oil, an ingredient found in thousands of baked goods, beauty products and pet foods.

About Red pandas

Red pandas are tree-dwelling animals native to the eastern Himalayas, in suitable habitat in Myanmar, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibet and China. While they share the same name as giant pandas, the two species are not closely related. Red pandas are the only living member of their taxonomic family. Slightly larger than a domestic cat and with markings similar to a raccoon, Red pandas have soft, dense reddish-brown and white fur. They feed mainly on bamboo, but also various plant shoots, leaves, fruit and insects. Red pandas are shy and solitary except when mating or raising offspring.