Winnipeg zoo sends tiger to Saint John, awaits two more

Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo is giving up a two-year-old female tiger named Sarma to Cherry Brook Zoo in Saint John, N.B.

International breeding program coordinates movement of tigers all over North America

A tiger inspects a gourd at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg ahead of Halloween. The zoo's tiger enclosure is getting a big makeover and two new members soon. (Assiniboine Park Zoo)

The Assiniboine Park Zoo will soon see some major changes in its tiger pen.

The zoo is giving up a two-year-old female tiger named Sarma to a zoo in Saint John, N.B.

In her place, the zoo will get two twin male tigers from Calgary. The three-way swap is part of the North American Species Survival Plan for Amur tigers.

Sarma will be on display in Winnipeg until Thursday. Then she’ll be on her way to Cherry Brook Zoo.

“It's incredibly difficult because the way that we take care of these animals, as if they were our own personal family, and we have to place the greater good for the species above our personal likes, but it's very, very sad” said Dr. Brian Joseph, the director of zoological operations at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Sarma’s parents, a 14-year-old female tiger named Kendra and a 19-year-old male tiger named Baikal, will remain in Winnipeg.

Joseph said all the swapping is part of a long-term strategy to breed more tigers.

“[Baikal] also has some long-term challenging health problems, and we know that he’s going to pass away in the next couple of years,” Joseph said. “We’re hoping at that time we can get a young female in and have her matched up with one of these young males from Calgary and have some babies.”

The streak of tigers will have a new, expanded habitat to live in when they arrive.

The new 26,000 sq. ft. enclosure with mixed vegetation should be open by the end of November.


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