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Celebrate Endangered Species Day by Thanking a Tiger Hero

Posted by Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Today is Endangered Species Day, a time to reflect on the importance of wildlife conservation and restoration efforts for all imperiled species and those who work to protect them.

Malayan tiger, Eko spies on our photographer. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

With the opening of our newest exhibit, Banyan Wilds, we’ve welcomed three young Malayan tigers to Woodland Park Zoo. It’s difficult to put into words how precious these individual creatures are, not only in our care, but precious in their very existence. When we began this immense project just a few years ago—the exhibit design, the Tigers Forever: Kenyir-Taman Negara,Malaysia Project and our Show Your Stripes advocacy campaign—we were under the impression that only 500 Malayan tigers were left in the wild. A daunting statistic. Since then, researchers and camera traps have revealed that number is even less; instead there may be fewer than 350 individuals that remain.

What can we do? Together, we can save tigers.
  • We can work with 27 other Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos within the Malayan tiger Species Survival Plan to assure genetic diversity in a captive population of 59 animals and growing.
  • We can build strong partnerships with organizations like Panthera, the Malayan government as well as local police and conservation rangers. We can provide financial and technical support to Rimba, Pemantua-Hijau and MyCat which are non-profit organizations that coordinate and assist our on-the-ground work with Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, state government officials, other conservation organizations and indigenous communities.
  • We can support sustainable agricultural in tiger territory through the products in our homes.
  • We can promise to never purchase illegal animal products.
  • We can appreciate the tiger for the majestic and awe-inspiring beast that it is.
  • We can teach our children to love and respect them.
  • As a community, we can fall in love with tigers.
Field researcher Wai Yee checks a camera trap used to study tiger populations in the area.
Reuben Clements, conservation scientist and Rimba co-founder, treks with Vice President of Field Conservation at WPZ, Fred Koontz; the team visited camera trap sites to monitor tigers and other animals in the area.
Almost as important as the tangible boots on the ground is our reverence for and awareness of these highly endangered cats that are—by the way—completely within the realm of saving if we act together, and act quickly.

As an umbrella species, as an ambassador for countless animals and plants that share their habitat, these fierce creatures are quite capable of coming back from the brink of extinction. Given a chance, the Malayan tiger will rebound—ferocious, kingly, majestic, and precious indeed.

Spend a moment today to thank those who are dedicating their life’s work to protecting wild things and wild spaces.

Tiger heroes comes in many forms: A researcher who works to protect big cats by ensuring diversity of prey species in the area. A local ranger mitigating threats from poachers and habitat fragmentation by patrolling rural areas by foot or with camera traps. A grad student gauging anti-poaching methods. A government liaison working closely with indigenous communities to establish sustainable hunting and agriculture. A teacher who excites others about tiger conservation. A donor who supports non-profits in Peninsular Malaysia's Greater Taman Negara Region. A biologist who treks through the tropical forest to study migration patterns. A zoo visitor who simply cares about the future of their favorite animal.

There are myriad ways in which we could define tiger hero, but they all share one goal—to establish a sustainable and safe habitat for these endangered animals—to ensure their survival.

Olan peers at his  reflection in the tiger stream. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.


Leave your “thank you” as a comment below and we’ll bundle them all up and deliver them to our conservation partners working in the tropical forests of Malaysia. Or, feel free to e-mail us directly at with the subject line “Thank a Tiger Hero.”

Kids (ages 3-10) are invited to enter our Thank a Tiger Hero art contest by visiting

All artwork entries will be sent to our partners in Malaysia to thank our conservation partners there. Entries received by June 15, 2015 are eligible to win a few tiger-worthy prizes: 

Grand prize (ages 7-10): A Zookeeper’s Life for Me sleepover experience for you and your favorite adult on August 15, 2015, complete with a pizza dinner!
Grand prize (ages 3-6): A tiger ZooParent adoption and plush.
Two lucky runners up (all ages eligible) will receive a Woodland Park Zoo t-shirt and 2 giraffe feeding tickets.

Use your imagination to fill the poster with a drawing, collage or cartoon to say ‘Thank You’ to a tiger hero—anything goes as long as it fits on the page (feel free to use the back too)!

Full contest rules and instructions can be found here.

Good luck and thank YOU for supporting Woodland Park Zoo and our conservation partners in Malaysia and all across the globe who protect wildlife and wild spaces.

A Tiger ZooParent Adoption supports animal care at the zoo and $5 from each donation will directly support conservation efforts at the zoo and around the world!