Australia Zoo handler Giles Clark plays with Charlie, a fully grown tiger, at the Tiger Temple.
Australia Zoo handler Giles Clark plays with Charlie, a fully grown tiger, at the Tiger Temple. Nicholas Falconer

Tiger Temple is a roaring success

IMAGINE a world without tigers.

These majestic cats are close to extinction, with just 3500 remaining in the wild.

It is believed one tiger is killed every day, which means the entire population could be eradicated by 2020.

Tiger conservation groups have recently recognised Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast as one of the largest contributors in helping to save the species.

The zoo has raised more than $1 million for tiger conservation since opening its Tiger Temple enclosure eight years ago.

Australia Zoo head of tigers Giles Clark, who started working with tigers at age 14, has made it is his life's work to save the species.

"I am very passionate and incredibly grateful for the zoo's support in the efforts of saving the tiger," he said.

"For me, it is not just about saving the tiger but the millions and millions of other species that share their habitat, including us humans, who rely on the resources that their habitat provides."

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors works in partnership with Fauna and Flora International with its tiger conservation program.

The conservation program works out of Kerinci Seblat National Park, one of the largest national parks in South East Asia, which holds a quarter of the world's Sumatran tiger populations.

The zoo also has its own conservation movement through its Sumatran and Bengal tiger breeding program.

The 10 cats, Ramalon, Ramis, Singha, Charlie, Mika, Sunita, Balshii, Kaitlyn and Maneki are part of the internationally recognised program.

Mr Clark said he hoped the two youngest Sumatran tigers, Kaitlyn and Maneki, would be ready for breeding in the next two years.

"These tigers are unique because their gene pool is completely different from all other Sumatran tigers in captivity," he said.

"We were the only place in the world to receive the tigers from Indonesia, which I believe is a credit to the zoo and our efforts in conservation."

The 2.5-acre Australia Zoo Tiger Temple includes eight large enclosures, sleeping dens and a paddock.

Eight keepers spend up to six hours a day in the enclosure in order to maintain a close friendship with the tigers.

"A hands-on relationship is what we truly believe to be the best possible way to handle the tigers in captivity," Mr Clark said.

"We do everything we can to keep them physically and mentally stimulated and try to give them the best quality of life they can have."

 

THE STRIPED FACTS

  • Only 3500 tigers remain in the wild
  • The tiger is the largest wild cat in the world
  • The scientific name for the tiger is Panthera tigris
  • No two tigers have exactly the same pattern of stripes
  • A tiger's roar can be heard as far as 3km away


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