Family attraction, Dartmoor Zoo, has announced the long-awaited launch of its refurbished tiger enclosure, Tiger Rock, where endangered Amur tigers, Dragan and Alisha, have taken up residence. The pair of three-year-old big cats were transferred from their previous enclosure to their new sleeping quarters at Tiger Rock early on Tuesday 6 February, and were released to explore the sights, sounds and smells of their new enclosure on Wednesday 7 February.
Tiger Rock has been under refurbishment since the previous resident, Vladimir the tiger sadly passed away due to old age. Keepers and volunteers at the zoo and Grow4Good have been carrying out repairs, refurbishing the enclosure’s features, and installing new interactive and stimulating features for the young tigers to enjoy. Tiger Rock features a large moat, a bubbling stream, rock structures and a newly constructed wooden platform, all intended to provide the tigers with opportunities to display their natural behaviours such as climbing, scratching, scent marking and even swimming – as the pair are known to enjoy a refreshing dip.
Dartmoor Zoo founder and CEO of the charity, Benjamin Mee, explained: “Dragan and Alisha have been in their previous enclosure while our dedicated team undertook extensive refurbishment and I’m thrilled to invite visitors to come and see the tigers enjoying Tiger Rock where they have more space and more enrichment, and where our guests can better observe their behaviour.
“Moving the tigers from one enclosure to the other was carefully planned and rehearsed, including crate training both tigers, as you would any other cat. Keeping them calm throughout the move was our key concern, but Dragan and Alisha are both laid back and accept vocal reassurance from our keeper team. After 24 hours spent acclimatising to their new house, they’re back into their regular routine and accepting visitors!”
Dragan and Alisha are two of only around 1,000 Amur tigers left in the world. Also known as Siberian tigers, the wild population inhabits mountainous areas of the Russian Far East, where the species is at risk from habitat loss caused by the logging industry. The pair arrived at Dartmoor Zoo from Berlin in 2016 and can now be seen enjoying their new enclosure 364 days a year, 10am – 4pm (British Winter) and 10am – 6pm (British Summer).
Dartmoor Zoo was established in 2007 when Benjamin Mee and his family bought an ailing zoo. Since then Ben, his family and team have built the Zoo into the popular tourist attraction it is today. Ben wrote a book about his experience and in 2011 it was made into the Hollywood Film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon. In 2014 the Zoo became a charity, of which Ben is CEO. Today the Zoo is heavily involved in research, conservation and education projects to promote the welfare of animals and to enrich both the lives of humans and animals.