A resident of the new Tiger Trail habitat — Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park
A goal of San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is to bring animals such as the Sumatran tiger back from the brink of extinction. Less than 350 of these majestic creatures live in the wild today, and the number continues to drop. The brand new, 5.2-acre Tull Family Tiger Trail habitat not only replaces the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's old tiger habitat, but it also does an excellent job of drawing attention to the tiger's plight.
Scientists believe tigers could become extinct in their native land of Sumatra before 2020, if protective measures aren't taken. Loss of habitat and human conflict are one reason for their decline, but poaching is by far the largest contributor. Tiger body parts are illegally sold by poachers as ingredients for folk remedies and more.
The almost $20 million from donors, with $9 million from the Tull family, that it took for San Diego Zoo Safari Park to create Tiger Trail definitely shows. Six Sumatran tigers, already residents of the park, will live in three separate but lushly landscaped enclosures with rocks for climbing, ponds for swimming, deadwood trees to use as scratching posts and long grasses for catnaps.
Sambutan Longhouse, one of several features along the zoo's Tiger Trail — Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The Sambutan Longhouse, a simulated cultural center in the middle of the Tiger Trail area, and the Pondok, an Indonesian hut or shack, are where guests can discover how poaching and the illegal trade of animal products are impacting the survival of tigers and other animals that share their habitat. There's also a small play area for kids, including ropes to climb, animal noise makers in the ground and a slide.
A Tiger Cam allows people to see what's happening inside Tiger Trail from the comfort of home. However, this can't be beat by being inches away from a tiger. If you're lucky, they'll lay or hang out right next to the glass wall of the viewing room.
Two of the tigers, Delta and Teddy, are mating partners separated until the time comes. Tiger Trail has a birthing den with outdoor space. The other four tigers are Delta's children (Their father is the dearly departed Ulan.): Joanne, Majel, Conrad and Thomas. The youngsters are all under the age of three, and their adorable baby photos are viewable online.
Get kids excited in advance by visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Tiger Trail game online - where players can help save tigers from poachers - or by downloading the Tiger Trail app.
Tiger Trail is included in standard San Diego Zoo Safari Park admission.