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Cats on a plane!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

Malayan tiger brothers Liem, Eko and Olan arrived from Little Rock Zoo via FedEx cargo shipping last night!

The tigers in their travel crates were unloaded from the FedEx cargo plane at Sea-Tac Airport, then moved to a truck where they were loaded in for a quick trip to Woodland Park Zoo. Photo: Martin Ramirez/Woodland Park Zoo.

Keepers picked up the boys at Sea-Tac Airport and brought them to their new digs here at Woodland Park Zoo. They'll be getting settled behind the scenes before the all new Banyan Wilds exhibit opens May 2.

Two of the brothers at their previous home, Little Rock Zoo. Photo: Karen Caster/Little Rock Zoo.

The tigers, each traveling in their own crate, were brought to a behind the scenes area at the zoo specialized for big cats. They were accompanied on their journey by their keepers from Little Rock Zoo who helped them settle in with us.

One by one we unloaded the crates into the holding area, allowing the tigers to step out from their crates and into their dens.

At Woodland Park Zoo the crates were unloaded from the truck and brought to the holding area by forklift. Photo: Martin Ramirez/Woodland Park Zoo.

Two of the brothers were fairly quick to exit their crates, but one was quite cautious about the whole matter. Noticing their brother still inside, the two came to visit him and tried to get him to join them, walking in and out of his crate and showing him the way out into their new digs. The two were already acclimating, accepting dinner from their new keeper and getting to know the space.

Can you spot the flash of orange and black inside the crate?! Photo: Martin Ramirez/Woodland Park Zoo.

We take our cues from the animals and realized this tiger needed to move at his own pace. So we turned off the lights, walked out of the room, and let the quiet, the calm and the encouragement of his brothers do the work. After two hours, he finally left his crate! It was about 11:30 at night and all three brothers settled in for their first night of sleep at their new home.

To minimize disturbance to the boys, we are not taking photos of them behind the scenes just yet. But I have to say, even just the sight of this empty crate is reason for excitement—it's one step closer to the return of tigers on view at Woodland Park Zoo!

An empty crate—the move was a success! Photo: Martin Ramirez/Woodland Park Zoo.

Right now the brothers are in a standard 30-day period of quarantine where we monitor their health and establish training and care routines with them. This is a chance for them to acclimate to their new surroundings, get to know their new keepers, adjust to their new diet, and settle in comfortably. 

Construction underway for the new Banyan Wilds. Photo: Monica Lake/Woodland Park Zoo.

Their new exhibit—Banyan Wilds, opening May 2—represents a transformation of the heart of the zoo. Immersing you in the tropical forests of Asia, the exhibit will bring you closer to tigers than ever before at Woodland Park Zoo. You’ll see their natural instincts kick in when the tigers climb and jostle trees, splash in a pool, and nap under the shade of a banyan tree. The forest journey continues with sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters and an aviary of tropical birds. You'll discover how Woodland Park Zoo and Panthera work together with on-the-ground partners in Malaysia to protect tigers and their forests, and what you can do to take action.

Photo: Karen Caster/Little Rock Zoo.

We can’t wait to show our stripes—and ask you to join us in showing yours! Look for more updates as we get closer to the debut this summer, and save the date for the May 2 grand opening.


Anonymous said…
What an exciting time, and thank you for sharing the photos you have! Why will the boys' diets change from what they ate at the zoo from which they came?
The diet won't necessarily change much, but even sometimes just eating the same foods from different suppliers takes a little getting used to. The keepers at Little Rock gave us some great tips on the boys' favorite treats that we'll be sure to use--bones, hard-boiled eggs and evaporated milk!
Anonymous said…
I know that Jaguar Keeper Bret Sellers is now the new Tiger Keeper. I know he's thrilled to have that postition and hope all goes well with the transition for the 'boys' I love that you turned out the lights and let the one come out on his own. <3
Anonymous said…
I thought there would be male and female tigers for breeding. Will we get to have any tiger cubs at our zoo?
Janet said…
I can't wait for the new Banyan exhibit to open; this should be a great place for these large kitties. :)
We have indeed designed the exhibit to work as a home for a breeding pair and their offspring. We expect to have the brothers with us for some time, but in the long-term, we hope to bring a breeding pair together here. Could very well be with one of the boys we have now!