Kipling, Melati, Hadiah, Sukacita and Manis are the true kings and queens of the urban jungle in the Big D. (Hate to break it to you, but the age-old expression that a lion is the “King of the Jungle” simply isn’t accurate. Lions inhabit savannas and grasslands, very rarely jungles.)
In the past year, we’ve welcomed three new Sumatran tigers, whose wild counterparts are seriously at risk. We sadly lost two of our beloved tigers, Sasha and Malayan tiger Batu, due to age-related health issues. Sasha proudly lived to be the second-oldest Sumatran tiger in a U.S. AZA-accredited zoo, at 21 years old.
Since tigers are solitary creatures by nature, you’ll never see more than one cat in our habitat at a time. When they’re not on exhibit, they’re living it up in their off-exhibit home, which includes outdoor exercise yards, pools, climbing structures, and tons of enrichment. Plus, a zookeeper staff of seven incredibly devoted folks who know these tigers better than anyone. And it’s time you get to know them, too. (There will be a quiz afterward, so pay attention.)
KIPLING: Born Nov. 24, 2006, Kipling is the male model of the clan, 308 pounds of majestically good-looking tiger. Born at the Sacramento Zoo, Kipling made his debut here in 2012. We’re often asked how people can identify our tigers. He can be pinpointed by the sea turtle-shaped marking on top of his head. (You see it?)
Kipling loves to play with enrichment items in the pool, and he’s exceptionally good at submerging them. When he’s done sleeping in each morning (such a luxury), he usually wakes up with a lot to say. From deep roars to high-pitched squeaks, we’ll let Kipling serenade us any day.
MELATI: Born May 24, 2006, Melati is 178 pounds of pure beauty and a healthy bit of sass. Nicknamed “Miss Whiskers”, this girl needs a contract with Maybelline for her thick, lengthy whiskers STAT. (Do they do that? Someone should get on that.)
Born at the National Zoo in D.C., Melati arrived in 2009 and has been impressing us ever since. She’s awesome at training; during health checks she voluntarily presents her body parts like the boss she is. Enrichment items that rock her world include diving into a good ol’ pile of hoofstock hay.
HADIAH: Born Dec. 12, 2006, at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Hadiah is everyone’s sweetheart. As a baby, she was hand-reared by zookeepers after being rejected by her mother at birth. Hadiah has remained very interested in people and will chuff (which is tiger for “you make me happy”), mumble and cheek rub towards them.
At 182 pounds, she’s a very playful and inquisitive cat who loves to swim. Oh, and she’s a smarty-pants, too, picking up new training behaviors like they’re nothing. Basically, if you ever had a tiger BFF, you’d want it to be Hadiah. (To spot Hadiah, look for a distinct white birthmark on her right shoulder.)
SUKACITA: Born Aug. 5, 2013, at the National Zoo, Sukacita is the youngest of the bunch and the gal who makes the boys drool. Here on an AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation, Sukacita has been genetically matched with our newest male, Manis. (But she still has some growing up to do before any of that can happen!) Since her arrival in September 2015, Manis and Kipling haven’t stopped flirting with the pretty girl, who we call Suki for short.
Sukacita loves to jump super-high to rip things down, like the planters keepers hang for enrichment. She’s still a little timid when exploring her new habitat, but you may be able to identify her by her very scruffy, fuzzy coat. As much as we’d love to brush her hair, she rocks it well.
MANIS: Born Sept. 13, 2004, at Woodland Park Zoo, Manis spent the majority of his life at the Kansas City Zoo. At 260 pounds, he’s our newest tiger, arriving last November. Manis is an easy cat to identify – just look for the luscious long hair around his neck. It may hurt lion Kamau’s feelings if we call it a “mane,” but it masquerades seriously as one! (Mental note: Double-check that Manis isn’t half-lion.)
This month, Manis explored his new habitat, the largest he’s ever seen. It made us all a tad emotional. (WATCH!) He’s definitely our best traveler in the tiger exhibit; he’ll navigate through the thick bamboo trees on the hill and take full dips in the pool, regardless of the temperature.
And for the first time, Manis is learning training behaviors to make health checks easier. He’s working super hard, and already has picked up a few things. Fun fact: Manis has been dubbed the “walking bulldozer.” This bulky feline will plow through any form of enrichment, and he even likes to rearrange the “furniture” in his home.
NEWS FLASH: Manis is actually Hadiah’s older brother! Although they weren’t littermates and will never recognize one another as siblings, we still think it’s pretty darn cool.
So next time you’re chilling at our tiger exhibit, we challenge you to test your Sumatran tiger identification skills. Who rocks long, thick whiskers? Who loves sea turtles so much that he got one tattooed on his head? Which male totally owns his lion-like mane?
You got this.