Two new tigers call Issaquah home

July 14, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

A standard orange-and-black Bengal tiger cub was one of two recently acquired by the Cougar Mountain Zoo. By Adam Eschbach

A standard orange-and-black Bengal tiger cub was one of two recently acquired by the Cougar Mountain Zoo. By Adam Eschbach

Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoological Park is the recipient of two new Bengal tiger cubs.

“We are very happy. We want people to come out and be a part of these two boys’ lives,” said Robyn Barfoot, general curator for Cougar Mountain Zoo. “If it weren’t for our guests, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”The two cubs, a royal white Bengal, 13 pounds, and a standard orange-and-black Bengal, 15 pounds, came to the zoo July 2. They are brothers from the same litter, born at an Arizona zoo six weeks ago, Barfoot said.

“We had always planned on having four and built an enclosure to hold four,” she added, of the new arrivals. “We had special kinds in mind, though. We knew we wanted a standard orange-and-black, and then another royal white, because people love to see them. It also helps us teach people about the recessive gene and that like people, animals come in different colors.”

It is Barfoot’s hope that these tigers, like the zoo’s 2-year-old tigers, become ambassadors for tigers in the wild and inspire patrons and residents to help with conservation efforts.

The zoo’s other tigers, Taj, a golden Bengal, and Almos, a royal white Bengal tiger, are from two separate litters, but were purchased together and brought to the zoo in May 2007.

Zoo officials have completed Taj’s and Almos’ second larger tiger habitat and will transfer them to their new facility in coming weeks. The two new cubs will live in the nursery enclosure that Taj and Almos reside in now, when they are ready.

“The objective, hopefully some day in the distant future, once they’ve all grown up, is to introduce them and they can all cohabitate,” like several zoos in Europe have, Barfoot said. “But if they can’t, we have the two phases they can each rotate through.”

Zoo officials delayed announcing the purchase and arrival of the new tigers until this week, because so many developmental and health concerns can arise in the first few weeks of their lives, she said.

Since the tigers are still small, zoo officials aren’t releasing them publicly until July 22, when they will have two outdoor play sessions each day for the public to watch. Times for those sessions will be announced closer to the public release date.

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