For the first time ever, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is home to four adult tigers. The Zoo has been home to Keemasan Mata, a nine-year-old male Malayan tiger, Berapi Api, an eleven-year-old female Malayan tiger, and Angin, a four-year-old male Malayan tiger.
Bumi, a four-year-old male Malayan tiger whose name means “earth” in Indonesian, joined the Zoo as its newest resident on December 10, 2014. Bumi comes to West Palm Beach from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. With the addition of Bumi, the Zoo is making “tiger history.”
Other milestones for the Zoo include Angin’s public debut, as well as completion of and debut of tigers in a new section of the Henry & Charlotte Kimelman Tiger Habitat, which has been under construction for nearly a year. Angin made his public debut in the Zoo’s “Tiger Falls” habitat on December 16th. The Zoo’s first Tiger Talk in the new “Tiger River” habitat section occurred on December 18th and featured Berapi Api.
Bumi’s transition from Tampa to West Palm Beach is part of a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Malayan tigers. The Zoo will house Bumi in the Zoo’s Melvin J. & Claire Levine Animal Care Complex for a minimum of 30 days, after which he will move to the Tiger Falls habitat. Officials have not yet set a date for Bumi’s public debut.
The Zoo is expanding the tiger habitat to double its original size. This expansion project is supported by the Zoo’s newest corporate sponsor, Braman Motorcars Palm Beach & Jupiter. The company’s sponsorship is helping continue the Zoo’s commitment to providing quality care and a natural habitat for its resident tigers. A grand opening ceremony for the new section of the tiger habitat will be scheduled in 2015.
“This is historic for us,” explained Nancy Nill, associate curator for the Zoo. “We are excited to welcome our fourth Malayan tiger, Bumi, and make Zoo history by keeping four adult tigers on grounds all at once. Because the tiger habitat has doubled in size, we are now able to house this many adult tigers. This is a huge step for us, and it is a good feeling to know we are expanding our role in Malayan tiger conservation.”
“Even though Bumi is not recommended to breed at the moment, by having the space to hold him, we are allowing other institutions to be able to breed,” Nill continued. “This provides a greater chance for the captive population to increase.”
The Zoo is a recognized leader in Species Survival Plan breeding programs for Malayan tigers, with three male Malayan tiger cubs, Jaya, Bunga and Penari, born at the Zoo in 2011. The wild Malayan tiger population has recently been estimated at fewer than 250 animals. Malayan tigers are the most endangered of the tiger subspecies, and they are among the smallest of the tiger species. Malayan tigers are indigenous to the Malay Peninsula, for which they are named. Initially, decline in tiger numbers was primarily due to a tremendous loss of habitat. More recently, the greater threat has been from poaching for its body parts, persecution by angry villagers, and starvation as their prey is over-harvested.