BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will say goodbye this week to our female Amur Tiger, Changbai, mother of tiger cubs Reka and Zeya, as she moves to a new permanent home. Born on May 24, 2007, Changbai arrived at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in January, 2017, from the Philadelphia Zoo. Her departure is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28.
Managed by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place. Chang was sent to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo as an excellent genetic match to the Zoo’s resident male tiger at the time, Petya. In November, 2017, Changbai gave birth to the Zoo’s two remaining resident tigers, Reka and Zeya. Reka and Zeya’s father, Petya, was transferred to Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, in November 2018.
Amur tigers are very rare, and are critically endangered in the wild. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, 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.
There is an SSP program in place for many species of animals through oversight by a group called the Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). The SSP makes breeding recommendations based on genetics, age and health of animals, and need for more of the species to protect future populations.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director, Don Goff, is the Chair of the National Felid TAG group. He leads a committee of AZA-accredited zoo members whose goal is to save declining species.
“As sad as we are to say goodbye to Changbai, the planned transfer of animals to other member zoos ensures the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population,” explained Goff.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has had repeated success in breeding endangered species, a testament to the Zoo’s animal care specialists and the highest quality of animal care. The Zoo has been the birthplace of multiple endangered species, including tiger cubs, maned wolf pups, Red wolf pups, two baby Giant anteaters, and most recently, two Amur leopard cubs.
About Amur tigers
The Amur, once called the 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.
About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:
Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 97th anniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, American alligators and Spur-thigh tortoises, Mexican and red wolves, and Golden Lion tamarin. Other highlights include the new Spider monkey habitat, the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org.