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Here, Kitty, Kitty: Rare Big Cat Finds Home At Beardsley Zoo

Amur tigers, such as Petya at Beardsley Zoo, are critically endangered in the wild.
Amur tigers, such as Petya at Beardsley Zoo, are critically endangered in the wild. Photo Credit: Beardsley Zoo

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Feline fans have something to roar about this month — the new Amur tiger at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

Ten-year-old Changhai arrived from the Philadelphia Zoo in January. She recently completed her quarantine and is ready to greet big cat lovers from her new home in the predator area near the café.

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are very rare, with fewer than 500 remaining in the wild.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ statistics, today’s tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past 100 years.

Managed by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place. Chang was sent to Beardsley Zoo as an excellent genetic match to the zoo’s resident male tiger, Petya.

“Chang is a beautiful tiger and is getting along very nicely with our zoo staff, and with Petya,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “We gave her ample time to become comfortable with her new surroundings and now she’s very much at home in her exhibit.”

The Amur tiger, is the largest cat in the world. Adult male tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds, with females weighing up to 350 pounds. Chang is small for a female Amur tiger, weighing 297 pounds.

Visitors will be able to meet Chang between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

“The Zoo’s breeding program exists to bolster the dwindling number of animals still in the wild,” Dancho said. “It’s a real testament to our zoo’s strong reputation for working to protect endangered species and to educate our guests about them. It’s an important part of our mission and we’re justifiably proud of that.”

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