Riya and Kemala are 3 year old Sumatran tigers. Sumatrans are the smallest tiger subspecies, much smaller than the large Siberian tigers. As jungle dwellers, Sumatran tigers don’t need the larger body mass needed to retain heat, their humid environment keeps them warm enough.
Like most cats, our girls sleep for a lot of the day, though they do enjoy their pool in the summer time. Tigers are one of the few cats that enjoy water, and they will swim and play (and even hide their toys) in their pond.
Tigers have ‘true stripes’, which means that their skin is also striped, and each tiger has a unique stripe patter, much like human finger prints.
There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
To have so few individuals of a species left is a devastating thought for conservationists. Not only because they are beautiful and interesting creatures, but also because they are apex predators that are vital to the fine balance of populations. If tigers disappear, then their prey animal populations will increase, taking up more resources which will have flow on effects for other species. “Without top predators, the entire ecosystem collapses,” says Wildlife Safari Keeper, Adriana Kopp, who works and trains with the tiger girls daily. “You would get an overrun of grazers and animals like that, then those populations over eat,” says Kopp.
Although ‘The Jungle Book’ may have you believing that tigers are villains, they are actually quite playful. Our girls LOVE playing with big plastic barrels, and new toys are always a big hit with them. The two girls at Wildlife Safari are sisters and they are very closely bonded, so they often play together, chuffing to show how happy they are. Tigers don’t purr, unlike smaller cats. Instead they make a noise called ‘chuffing’, which (if you’d like to give it a go) kind of sounds like exhaling while shivering.
Riya is the dominant of the two sisters, while Kemala is the calmer and slightly smaller sister. While Kemala’s calm nature tends to charm most people, Riya’s spark of personality wins hearts as well. “She just has such personality and spunk,” says Kopp. At 200 lbs Riya is also slightly larger than her sister, who is 180 lbs, which is a good reflection of her dominance – she tends to claim more snacks than her sister!
Whether they are napping or playing, the tigers are a majestic sight. While you may think stripes make them conspicuous, they are actually masters of camouflage.So if you visit and can’t see them, look a little closer….