Statement as issued Thursday by the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo:
Brother-and-sister Sumatran tigers Indah and Bugara will celebrate their second birthday at 1 PM on Friday, August 16 with special gifts delivered by their zoo keepers. The brief celebration will take place in Tiger Forest in the Indonesian Rain Forest exhibit.
The tigers arrived in Fort Wayne this winter from the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas after our two tigers were sent to others zoos for breeding purposes.
Though they are twins, Indah and Bugara have different birthdays. Indah, the female, was born on August 15 and Bugara, the male, was born several hours later on August 16. Because their mother did not properly care for them, the tigers were hand-reared by Cameron Park Zoo staff.
Despite their short tenure in Fort Wayne, the cats have become very popular because they frequently approach guests at viewing windows. “Because they were hand-raised, both are very people-oriented,” said Indonesian Rain Forest Area Manager Tanisha Dunbar. “They’re playful and will get right up to the glass.”
Bugara is the larger of the two cats, weighing 254 pounds. Indah weighs 204 pounds. Aside from the size difference, it’s easy to tell the two cats apart because the tip of Bugara’s left ear is missing.
Hand-reared cats are typically not good candidates for breeding, so Bugara has been neutered. This allows the cats to be exhibited together even after they reach breeding age.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the six surviving tiger subspecies. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is their only wild home, because native forests are being destroyed to build unsustainable palm oil plantations. Three tiger subspecies have gone extinct in the last 80 years.
Tigers living in North American zoos are overseen by the Species Survival Plan, a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums which seeks to maintain the highest level of genetic diversity in a population through managed breeding.