Amur tiger arrives at Woburn Safari Park 'to help safeguard the future of iconic species'
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Keepers are excited to welcome Dmitri, a 165kg feline – and a member of the largest species of big cat on the planet – from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo,.
With 2022 marking the Zodiac Year of the Tiger, the move has been coordinated between Woburn and Whipsnade to support the welfare of the endangered species.
A Woburn Safari Park spokeswoman said: "Dmitri is a real character and after settling into his new home he will be delighting visitors in the nine-acre (36,000 sqm) drive-through reserve that he will share with Minerva, Woburn’s existing female Amur tiger."
Dmitri will be celebrating his fourth birthday on June 23.
He was born at Whipsnade Zoo in the UK in 2018, and was raised with two brothers until he was ready to get a pad of his own.
The spokeswoman added: "Dedicated teams at both establishments worked closely together to make the transition as seamless as possible for him and when ready, he will join tigress Minerva, who is currently ranked as one of the most important females in the captive tiger population in Europe.
"It is hoped that in the future Dmitri will also become an important member of the international breeding programme.
"It is estimated that there are fewer than 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild and coordinated captive breeding has proven incredibly important and effective."
Ben Davies, acting head of Section: Carnivores, said: “Woburn Safari Park is synonymous with tigers and Dmitri’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. His joining us is the start of an amazing new adventure for all the team here. He and Minerva will be able to assist in our fundraising campaign coinciding with the Year of the Tiger and we are sure that our visitors will love getting to know him!
“For the Woburn team, it will also be lovely to once again have another tiger at the Park; after having to say a very sad goodbye to Elton, the Park’s old male tiger, in January. Hopefully, one day we will also see Dmitri become a father to his own set of cubs, to help safeguard the future of this iconic species.”
Once Dmitri is settled, visitors will be able to tell him apart from Minerva by his notable size difference.
The Amur tiger is the largest big cat on the planet and males can reach a whopping 320kg (50.3 stone) in weight compared to the females, which typically reach around 180kg (28.3 stone).
All tigers have their own unique stripe pattern and the pair also have individual facial markings.
Visitors will be able to look out for the sideways number five on Dmitri’s right temple, compared to Minerva’s off-shaped heart above her right eye.
Sarah Mcgregor, Predators team leader at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, said: “We are all very excited for Dmitri to begin a new chapter as he leaves ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to start his next adventure at Woburn Safari Park.
"Whilst he will be missed by our team and regular visitors, we are all very excited for what his future holds!”