Cougar Mountain Zoo offers talk about tigers

February 15, 2011

By Michael McDonald

A Bengal tiger is captured on film in Kanha National Tiger Preserve, India. By Robyn Barfoot

On Feb. 27, Cougar Mountain Zoo will host a lecture on the dilemma of the Bengal tiger.

General Curator and Zoo Manager Robyn Barfoot will be the speaker.

“The lecture was the suggestion of one of our zoo members who wanted to know about my trip to India and the conservation work I had done,” Barfoot said. “She suggested making it a public meeting and I ran with it.”

According to Barfoot, the Bengal tiger has seen a 97 percent drop in its population in the past 100 years. In search of answers, she recently made a visit to India and met with directors from different tiger parks as well as the director of the World Wildlife Fund.

The lecture will go more in-depth on the subject of the tiger and discuss ways people can help.

“I will have a slideshow of photos from my trip and will touch on ecotourism in India and what that means for the Bengal Tiger,” Barfoot said. “There will be a Q-and-A section and information on what ‘we’ can do to help the wild tiger. It’s going to be a relaxed environment, encouraging interaction and open discussions about the plight of the tiger.”

Cougar Mountain Zoo is home to four Bengal tigers. Senior Keeper Sasha Puskar has been at the zoo since June 2005 and has worked closely with the tigers since their arrival.

“I work daily with our now four Bengal tigers with general husbandry, feeding, medicating (if needed) and training,” Puskar said. “From the tools obtained by the zoo and Robyn, I do my best to provide anyone I encounter a vast amount of information about this vanishing species.”

Barfoot said she hopes that the lecture will bring some much-needed attention to the tiger’s situation.

“The lecture is going to be entertaining as well as informative,” she said. “Everyone is welcome and it is a great opportunity to get a group of like-minded people together for a worthy cause. Skip the Oscars and come out to the zoo and talk tigers with us.”

Tickets for the 7 p.m. event are $25 and all proceeds will go toward the education department and conservation efforts at Cougar Mountain Zoo. Pre-registration is required; purchase tickets by e-mailing Barfoot at RBarfootCMZ@aol.com or calling the zoo at 392-6278.

Michael McDonald is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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