Tiger update: We’re really pleased to share that Sumatran tiger Zayana came back into oestrus (or season) last week, meaning that she and male Ramah have come together to mate.

You’ll recall just under a month ago Zayana gave birth to her first litter of two cubs unfortunately neither of which survived. Just as happens in the wild, the premature death of these cubs triggered Zayana to come back into oestrous quickly to give her the best opportunity of breeding again and hopefully producing a larger, healthier litter of cubs.

Our Carnivore lead senior keeper Nick says in this latest oestrus period the pair have reconnected exceptionally well, been extremely respectful of each other, and they’ve seen a real progression in their natural mating behaviours.

“It’s been a relief and heartening to see Zayana rest and recover so well from what was a big and exhausting time for her. She’s now totally bounced back to being the very relaxed tiger she is, and during this oestrus we’ve seen everything from an increase in the duration of mating between her and Ramah to some record daily matings (37!) and a lot more pre-and post-copulation behaviours. These are things like presenting and sniffing each other to chasing, gentle biting, and swiping,” explains Nick.

Nick says checking the overnight camera footage each morning has enabled himself and the team to fully observe and assess the behaviour of both tigers and whether they’re still equally interested in mating.

“Sleeping up against each other in their separate areas, face-rubbing and presenting are clear indications that they’re still keen to mate. This has now tailored off, indicating oestrus, and Zayana’s receptivity period, has naturally come to an end, so they are now happily back to being in separate habitats.

“In the coming weeks we’ll be monitoring Zayana closely to see whether or not she comes back into oestrus. If she does fall pregnant, then it’s likely she could give birth near the end of the year. But as always, there is a long way to go yet and so we’re just taking one step at a time! And of course, we’ll keep everyone posted on how things are going.”