Vlad is our oldest Siberian, or Amur Tiger, and he was born here on 6th June 2001. His parents were Spar and Tammy and his sisters were Blotch and Stripe who he lived with until they sadly died about a year apart. Having been hand-reared they lived happily together, but in the wild Tigers are solitary, only coming together to mate. The female will urinate and leave scratch marks on trees signally that she is ready and then will spend 5 or 6 days with the male. She is receptive for 3 days of this time and then the gestation period is between 3 and 3.5 months. She will give birth to on average 2-4 cubs within a den. When they are born they are born blind and are pretty helpless. They'll stay with their mother for 2 - 3 years.
Interestingly, although the sex ratio at birth tends to be equal, there are 2 to 4 females for every male. This is possibly down to the fact that female cubs tend to stay with their mothers longer and establish territories close to hers. Males will leave fairly young and travel far on their won so they are much more vulnerable to poachers.
Alisha and Dragan are new additions to the Dartmoor Zoo family, and were both born in 2014. They are great characters, so friendly and they love to play! We are really hopeful that Alisha will become part of a breeding programme which would be fantastic for our conservation work. Sadly the number of tigers have decreased catastrophically over the last 100 years, from hundreds of thousands to between 3000 and 5000. Of these it is estimated that only 400-500 are living in the wild. There used to be 8 subspecies of tiger but now 3 have become extinct. This is due to deforestation and hunting. They are hunted for trophies and also for traditional Chinese medicines.
Siberian Tigers are the largest of the tiger subspecies, and the largest of the world's big cats. Their coats act as great camouflage, and yes, it is true, their skin is also stripy under their fur! No two tigers will have the same stripes, just like a human's fingerprints. Male tigers can weigh between 180 and 306kg, and females between 100 and 167 kg, so they are quite a lot smaller. You can see this when you see Dragan and Alisha side by side.
Fancy getting close with a big cat?
For those aged over 16 and you could be a Big Cat Keeper for a Day which involves joining the Keepers on their rounds of the big cats and other carnivores and feeding either the lions or the tigers...!