We’re very excited to share that Sumatran tiger Sali has arrived from Hamilton Zoo and this morning had her first opportunity to explore our new ‘Lowlands’ tiger habitat within our South East Asia Jungle Track.

Fourteen-year-old Sali has relocated to Auckland Zoo as part of the zoos’ global breeding and advocacy programme for this Critically Endangered big cat, which is now estimated to number fewer than 400 animals in the wild.

“As keepers we’re absolutely fizzing to have Sumatran tiger back at Auckland Zoo after a more than three-year absence. They are an extraordinary species, that with the support of our visitors, we continue to help conserve in the wild. When it comes to individuals, Sali is exceptional and will be a fantastic advocate for her wild cousins,” says carnivore keeper, Nick Parashshak, who has spent time at Hamilton Zoo ahead of Sali’s move.

“Sali is quite sensitive in nature, but once comfortable she exudes this really warm presence, and is a real ‘chuffer’ – the vocalisation tigers do when they’re in a friendly and relaxed state.

“Thanks to the programme our Hamilton colleagues have implemented, Sali also really enjoys the challenge of training. They have been able to do blood draws from her and weigh her as part of regular health checks and did an amazing job getting her comfortable in her transport crate ahead of this move.

“We’re so looking forward getting to know Sali, seeing how she explores and utilises this brand spanking new state-of-the-art habitat and doing all we can to make her life a full and enriching one. And we can’t wait for our visitors to meet her,” says Nick.

Hamilton Zoo carnivore keeper Sam Jeune describes Sali as one very special tiger – much loved by Hamilton staff and visitors alike.

“I’ve worked with Sali for five years now, and one of the things that really stands out about her is what an amazing mother she’s been to her son Kembali and daughter Kirana; she’s passed on so many skills to them

“While we are sad to see Sali go, we are also excited that she’s getting this opportunity at Auckland, where she’ll be the very first tiger to experience the new habitat. Her move to Auckland also frees up space for us to bring in a male to breed with Sali’s daughter Kirana in future” explains Sam.

Later this year, Auckland Zoo also hopes to welcome a young pair of Sumatran tigers from the United States. The two tigers have been selected by the international breeding programme managers to breed and contribute their valuable genes to the population in Australasia.

Zoo visitors may be lucky enough to see Sali in the coming days as she begins exploring her Lowlands habitat, where she will also have the choice to access her inside area.

Tiger Fast Facts

  • The ‘Critically Endangered’ Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, is the smallest of the world’s remaining tiger sub-species. (According to the IUCN, there are currently 6 sub-species: Sumatran, Bengal, Indo-Chinese, South China, Amur, and Malayan)
  • Today fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, with habitat loss and poaching continuing to be their greatest threats.
  • Internationally within zoos, there are close to 400 Sumatran tigers that are part of the zoos’ global breeding and advocacy programme for this species
  • As apex (top) predators, tigers play a vital role in maintaining the harmony of their ecosystems. By preying on herbivores, tigers help to keep the balance between prey animals and the forest vegetation which they feed upon
  • Conservation: For many years Auckland Zoo has supported Wild Cats Conservation Alliance whose great work monitoring and protecting wild tiger populations is crucial to preventing the extinction of these remarkable big cats. The Zoo also supports the Sumatran Ranger Project (SRP) whose work involves protecting the wildlife (including tigers) and habitats of Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra – part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most diverse habitats on Earth. Read more