Amur Tiger Changbai Departs as CT's Beardsley Zoo Prepares New Tiger Habitat

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Changbai, a sixteen-year-old Amur tiger and the mother of cubs born at the Zoo in 2017, is scheduled to depart Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. Born on May 24, 2007, Changbai arrived at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in January 2017 from the Philadelphia Zoo. After a brief transfer to the Columbus Zoo, Changbai returned in 2020. Her departure is scheduled for early next week. 

After the birth of two endangered Amur tiger cubs in November 2017, the Zoo began a campaign to create a new, more spacious home for its tigers. Pamela Kochiss Werth first stepped forward with a $1 million pledge for a new tiger habitat, with additional funds raised from Zoo supporters. In April 2022, the  Zoo received $4.1 million in funding from the state in bond awards, which made the new tiger habitat a reality. 

With Changbai’s departure, Phase One of the multi-year plan is ready to begin. Architect’s renderings are now finalized, and a plan for construction will shortly be underway. The first step will be demolition of the existing holding facility, followed by construction of the new indoor holding area. The new building will be double the size of the existing one, with maternity and neo-natal spaces designated, along with a kitchen and specialized animal care areas. 

Phase Two will be a redesign and expansion of the outdoor habitat. The total cost estimate for both phases is $4.5 million, with $3 million for Phase Two allocated from bond funds awarded to the Zoo by the state in 2022. 

“The existing tiger habitat was built several decades ago and has long been on our list to expand and renovate. We’re very excited to begin the plan to create a larger habitat for our tigers’ welfare,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Zoos today serve as arks for endangered species, offering both a place of sanctuary and a Species Survival Plan to ensure that the species doesn’t vanish.

 “Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo continually adapts over the years to new standards in animal welfare and conservation,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “ With this latest Zoo improvement, we continue to lead the way into a brighter future. Our heartfelt thanks to Pamela Kochiss Werth, all of our generous Zoo donors, and the state for the bond funds.”

Amur tigers are very rare and are critically endangered in the wild. According to the AZA, today Amur tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years. 

About Amur tigers

The Amur, or Siberian tiger, is a rare subspecies of tiger, and the largest cat in the world. Adult male tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds, with females weighing up to 350 pounds. Similar to people’s fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Amur tigers differ from other tigers with fewer, paler stripes, and a mane that helps to keep them warm. They live in southeast Russia as well as small areas of China and North Korea. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 22 years in human care.

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About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Get your ticket to adventure! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 101st year, features 350 animals representing primarily North and South American and Northern Asian species. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur tiger and leopards, maned wolves, Mexican gray wolves, and red wolves.  Other highlights include our new Andean Bear Habitat, Spider Monkey Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit, and the Pampas Plain with giant anteaters and Chacoan peccaries. Guests can grab a bite from the Peacock Café and eat in the Picnic Grove.  As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and participant in its Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, the non-profit Zoo is committed to the preservation of endangered animals and wild habitats. Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo’s website at

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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