KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Another tiger is calling Zoo Knoxville his home.
Tahan, an adult male Malayan Tiger, is at the zoo as a part of the breeding program. Zoo Knoxville shared a video on Facebook explaining how it can be tricky to breed tigers in captivity and what it takes to introduce a tiger to a new home.
“Tigers are difficult to breed, or they can be. And so they only come together for breeding in the wild, which is why in human care we have to often kind of trade out tigers if the pair doesn’t get on well. ” Said Petty Grieve, the Asian Trek Curator. “We actually have an introduction protocol. We take a lot of time to talk through the steps. We have a lot of safety measures we put into place because it can be dangerous to do tiger introductions, and so it just kind of depends on the pair.
In the video, a handler can be seen working with Tahan through a metal grate, showing him a target and then rewarding him with food. Grieve explained that they are working to build a relationship with Tahan.
“Tigers are typically very food motivated, and we use every opportunity where we are interacting with him to go ahead and give him some meat because he loves it and we want him to love us.” Grieve said. “Also, we do want to go ahead and start training with him because there will be certain behaviors that we would like him to learn while he’s here so that we can help take the best care of him possible.”
According to Zoo Knoxville, there are fewer than 400 Malayan tigers left in the wild.
“We want to ensure that Malayan Tigers are still on the planet for future generations to come. You know, there’s a space for them and they serve a purpose out in the habitat, so we want to ensure that that ecosystem can continue.” Grieve said.