Keepers ‘chuffed’ with tigers’ first date
Tuesday 26 February 2013
Critically-endangered tiger pair meets for first time at ZSL London Zoo.
Love is in the air at ZSL London Zoo as one of Europe’s most important pair of Sumatran tigers has met face-to-face for the first time.
Jae Jae and Melati, who were matched by the global breeding programme, were introduced to each other in their new home at Tiger Territory – and keepers couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome.
Locking eyes across their 27,000sqft home, the tigers kept a close watch on each other before flirty female Melati made the first move towards male Jae Jae and rubbed her cheeks on his. Clearly vocalising their feelings for one another with throaty growls and noisy chuffing – a friendly ‘pffft’ noise that’s unique to tigers – the big cats were soon rolling around on the lawn together.
Jae Jae, the new male Sumatran tiger at ZSL London Zoo
Tiger team leader Tracey Lee said: “We really couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction between these two special tigers; it was love at first sight. Melati was the first to make a move, carefully approaching Jae Jae before rubbing her cheeks against his – which is pretty much the equivalent of planting a kiss on his cheek.
Jae Jae the tiger
“Jae Jae responded in kind, prowling around his territory and letting out deep throaty growls – his way of letting other males in the area know that Melati is his girl. They’re showing all the right signs for mating soon which is fantastic for the worldwide breeding programme for these endangered animals.”
Playing an incredibly significant role in the global breeding programme for Sumatran tigers, whose numbers in the wild stand at just 300, high hopes are resting on Jae Jae and Melati, who if successful, will produce the first tiger cubs at ZSL London Zoo for more than 15 years.
Female Sumatran tiger Melati
Paired up using the Sumatran tiger studbook, which is managed at ZSL London Zoo, Jae Jae and Melati were matched by a process which took into consideration each animal’s heritage, to ensure that the most genetically-diverse animals are placed together.
Now going on regular private dates whilst they settle into their new surroundings, Jae Jae and Melati will be kept off show until Tiger Territory opens to the public on Friday 22 March.
Please note: there are no tigers on show to the public at ZSL London Zoo until the opening of Tiger Territory on Friday 22 March.