Endangered Sumatran tiger Indah will make her public debut at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Friday, April 2, at noon. It’s a homecoming for the female tiger, one of three cubs born at the Tacoma zoo over six years ago.
“It’s heartwarming to welcome her home to Tacoma and see her all grown up,” said Zoo Asia Animal Curator Telena Welsh, who helped care for Indah when she was a cub at Point Defiance. Zoo guests will have an opportunity to meet Indah this weekend and see how much she has grown, Welsh said.
When Indah arrived at Point Defiance, she appeared to be comfortable immediately in her surroundings and may have even recognized her sister Kirana, said Assistant Curator Erin Carey. While the two sisters live in separate bedrooms behind the scenes, they can see each other and vocalize. “They talk a lot back and forth, making happy noises,” said Carey.
Carey described Indah as a “calm, mellow tiger who goes with the flow.” The female tiger is also very social and personable, and chuffs at the other tigers, “a tiger sign of friendliness,” said Carey. While it’s too cold to swim now, Carey said she thinks Indah will take a dip in the large pool in her waterfall habitat this summer. “She is a fast learner and loves to explore.”
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with only about 400 remaining in the wild on their native Indonesian island of Sumatra, and their numbers are dwindling quickly due to poaching and habitat loss.
Indah will serve as an ambassador for her wild cousins and help bring attention to the urgent need to protect tigers in the wild, said Welsh. “We hope people will see the beauty and grace of these incredible animals and take steps to save them in the wild.”
Point Defiance Zoo is a recognized leader in the conservation of Sumatran tigers and other endangered species. Donations of $67,500 since 2012 to The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund have helped support efforts to mitigate human-tiger conflict and to catch and prosecute poachers in Sumatra.
Indah came to Tacoma through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Sumatran tigers, a managed breeding program for endangered species that is designed to increase the numbers and genetic diversity of the tiger population in North America.
About 75 Sumatran tigers live in accredited zoos in North America and an estimated 200 to 300 live in zoos worldwide.
Point Defiance Zoo is home to three other Sumatran tigers, Bandar, 7, Kali, 7, and Kirana, 6.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can to conserve this amazing species for future generations,” Welsh said. “I can’t imagine a world in which tigers cease to exist.”
To learn more about tiger conservation and ways to help, go to pdza.org/save-tigers.