City of Joburg

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo


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With their bright coats and deep roars, two Bengal tigers are causing great excitement at the Joburg Zoo.

tigerTHE Joburg Zoo has welcomed two new temporary friends to its menagerie; Bengal tigers Winston and Leia will be at the Zoo until the end of November this year, and visitors are welcome to drop by to say hello.

The pair arrived from the Pretoria National Zoological Gardens on 3 April, and was released into a public enclosure on Monday, 7 April. They're holidaying at the Joburg Zoo until the end of November, while their enclosure at the Pretoria Zoo is being revamped.

Describing the animals' reception, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo spokesperson, Noeleen Mattera, said: "The male tiger (white), Winston, who is six years old and the female (brown) named Leia, aged 14 years, have quickly caught the eye of curious onlookers as they play in the elephant dung provided for their enrichment."

About the Bengal Tiger

Bengal tigers are found mostly in Southeast Asian countries and live in habitats that include tropical rainforests, dense grasslands and mangroves.

They are endangered, like all other tigers, and there are fewer than 2000 Bengal tigers living in the wild. They face danger from poachers, who sell their skin, teeth and claws as decorative items, or to be used in traditional medicines, and also compete with humans for space.

As humans need more space to live, and farm crops and domestic animals, Bengal tigers have less territory to roam and fewer wild prey to choose from. As a result they prey on domestic animals and sometimes even humans, and are then hunted and killed themselves.

Bengal tigers prefer to hunt at night; their stripes provide camouflage in long grass and shadows and they adeptly use their some 250 adult kilograms to knock their prey over. They are carnivores, feeding on deer, wild pigs and buffalos among other animals, and kill by biting the neck. Despite myths that cats don't like water, they are skilled swimmers, even hunting while swimming.

These big cats are loners, and roam huge territories, which they scent-mark and defend aggressively.

More tigers at the Zoo

The Joburg Zoo also has two female Siberian tigers; Olga, who came to the Zoo in 1998, and Leicey, born in 2003 at the Zoo.

Siberian tigers in the wild live in the eastern parts of Russia, China and North Korea. They are more adapted to colder weather, with thicker fur and more fat, and sport lighter coats and stripes than other tigers. They are larger than Bengal tigers but also face habitat destruction and extinction.

All tigers' stripes are unique, much like the fingerprints of humans.