The pairing of Zayana (4) and Ramah (5) to breed is part of a zoos’ international breeding and conservation advocacy programme for this Critically Endangered big cat that today numbers fewer than 400 animals in the wild.
Reviewing night camera footage each morning has been a key tool in monitoring and informing the steps to their introduction – initially indoors, then out in their Lowlands habitat. Senior Carnivore keeper Nick says classic positive signs from Zayana have been lots of chuffing and calling, increased face pressing up against the mesh barrier that separated the two tigers, and a desire to sleep as near as possible to Ramah.
“Zayana’s also been doing lots of playful rolling around in Ramah’s presence at night, something she never does outside of oestrous – when she doesn’t want a bar of him! Ramah has also called, would face press, and been keen to sleep near Zayana.
“Observing these behaviours and those before, during and after mating are informing when it’s been best for us to separate them and when to reintroduce them outside again for mating over this past week.