Two tigers have taken part in an unusual and egg-citing date-with-a-difference at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, using their animal superpowers to hunt for a giant Easter egg.
Keepers decided to create a special Easter egg hunt for seven-year-old female Amur tiger Naya, after she moved to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo from a feline conservation centre in France. Naya has joined 180kg (28 stone) male tiger Botzman at the UK’s largest Zoo, and the Easter egg hunt acted as one of their first dates.
A huge, colourful egg was made from papier-mâché, brushed with intriguing scents including blood and catnip, and then hidden within the tigers’ large enclosure, to spark their natural super-skills of curiosity, exploration and stealth.
Team leader Donovan Glyn said: “We wanted to create an activity for Naya that would engage her natural instincts to hunt for and investigate something, in order to help her feel immediately at home here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Once we dreamt up the Easter egg hunt, we realised this would also be an excellent way for Naya and Botzman to get to know one another better.
“So far, Naya and Botzman have been getting on extremely well, in fact, they are almost inseparable. We’re all thrilled that romance seems to be in the air this spring, and have high hopes for these two as part of the conservation breeding programme.”
Naya has moved to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). Amur tigers are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. As well as managing the EEP for Amur tigers, ZSL works for tiger conservation in the Russian Far East, through population monitoring, anti-poaching work, education outreach and wildlife health.
Donovan Glyn continued: “Amur tigers have highly adapted skills when it comes to hunting, and use their striped markings, as well as their super-stealth capabilities to get close to their prey without being noticed."