We’re excited to share that Auckland Zoo’s Sumatran tigers Zayana and Ramah have successfully come together to mate over the past week and have demonstrated that they like each other a lot!

Their introduction comes after months of planning, and intensive monitoring and management by our Carnivore keepers to ensure it happened at the optimal time in Zayana’s cycle, and when both cats’ behaviours indicated they were very keen to be together. (Tigers are primarily solitary and in the wild normally only come together to breed).

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.

“It’s a super exciting and positive step in Zayana and Ramah’s journey to breed. Everything has gone incredibly well, and we’ve seen plenty of mating action, which is great, but we’re mindful that this is their first time together and they’re learning, so it’s early days,” says Nick.

 Zayana’s oestrous period should be trailing off soon, and as their behaviour changes due to this, they’ll be happy to be separated. Nick and the team will continue to observe and monitor Zayana over the coming weeks, and we look forward to sharing more updates as things progress.


  • Male Ramah (5) from Oaklahoma City Zoo and female Zayana (4) from Topeka Zoo and Conservation Centre (Kansas) arrived at Auckland Zoo in early November 2022.
  • Auckland Zoo has a breeding recommendation for these two big cats from the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA) Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) for Sumatran tigers, who bring valuable new genetics to enhance and sustain the Australasian region’s population.
  • Breeding: Female Sumatran tigers reach sexual maturity around 3-4 years of age, and males at 4-5 years. Females come into oestrous every three to nine weeks, and following conception, have a 100 – 108-day gestation before giving birth. Average litter size is 2-3 cubs, which the female rears alone. In the wild, there can be between 200-250 matings over the course of the female’s receptive period (between 4-7 days) – as cats are induced ovulators – requiring the multiple stimulation for ovulation to occur.
  • Conservation status: The Sumatran tiger is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of Threatened Species. Fewer than 400 of these tigers remain in the wild. Internally within zoos, there are close to another 400, as part of zoos’ global breeding and advocacy programme for this species.
  • Zoo support for tigers in Sumatra: Auckland Zoo supports a Lingkar Initiative Indonesia Project via WildCats Conservation Alliance, which aims to strengthen conservation of Sumatran tigers in the south-west of Kerinci Seblat National Park. This is through collaboration with government agencies and religious leaders, while building lasting support among the community for Sumatra tiger conservation using Islamic perspectives and values.