New Bengal tigers get names, go on display
August 25, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Issaquah’s newest tiger additions have names and are on display for visitors at Cougar Mountain Zoo.You can see Bagheera, a 40-pound orange Bengal, and Vitez, a 33-pound royal white Bengal, on display at the zoo’s outdoor nursery in the Magic Forest twice a day, Wednesday through Sunday.
The two 13-week-old cubs received their names a few days ago after two sponsors came forward to help pay for the tigers.
In return, the two sponsors were able to select the cub’s names from a list of community-endorsed names.
“It was so much fun for us to look in our e-mail or on the forms in the visitor center,” said Robyn Barfoot, the zoo’s general curator. “The public was great. We received so many names, as far suggestions for the two boys.”
Those names came from nearly every culture and generation, she said. Some made zoo employees laugh, like Bob No.9 and Tigger, while others were strong and beautiful, like Loki, a mythological god, or local landmarks, like Rainier.
Zoo officials compiled a list of the top 10 names from the community for each tiger then let the sponsors have the final say.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Barfoot said.
Each name complements the two cubs’ personalities, she added.
Bagheera is named for the character in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” who befriends the man cub, Mowgli, and becomes his teacher.
“He was so important to the character in that book,” Barfoot said. “Similarly, he is teaching the relationship between man and animal here.”
The first four letters of his name, ‘Bagh,’ also mean tiger in Hindi, she said.
In addition, the name Bagheera landed on the final list because the cub’s mother’s name is Kipling, in honor of the author, she said.
Vitez’s name comes from Hungarian roots and means brave-hearted or hero in that language.
“His name is so powerful,” Barfoot said. “He is a tiger that is brave of heart and heroic, which fits his personality.”
Vitez’s sponsor is also the sponsor of the older royal white Bengal tiger, Almos, Barfoot said.
The two cubs will eventually move into the Phase I tiger habitat, the one Almos and Taj are in. Almos and Taj will move into the Phase II tiger habitat at that time.
That switch might come as early as the end of September or early October.
The zoo will hold a special fundraiser and ceremony for Almos and Taj for that transition, Barfoot said.
Tickets to the transition will cost $100 each and all proceeds will go toward supporting the tigers, she said.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets should call or e-mail the zoo.
If you go
Cougar Mountain Zoological Park
11-11:20 a.m. and 3-3:20 p.m. (weather permitting)
Wednesday through Sunday
19525 S.E. 54th St.
Admission: Free for children under 2, $8 for children 2 and older, $10.50 for adults 13 and older, $9.50 for adults 62 and older
Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.