Kids & Family

Rare ‘handsome’ tiger arrives at Chester Zoo to save his species

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 2nd August 2022

Chester Zoo has welcomed a new male tiger as part of their mission to protect his species from extinction.

‘Handsome’ Dash has been chosen through the breeding programme for his genetic match with the zoo’s female tiger Kasarna.

Dash is a Sumatran tiger, one of the rarest big cats on the planet, with as few as 400 in the wild.

The three-year-old big cat has travelled from Fota Wildlife Park in Ireland to hopefully hit it off and mate with Kasarna, who was born at Chester Zoo in 2015.

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The critically-endangered tiger is described by Chester Zoo staff as ‘handsome and confident’.

In the wild, the tigers are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where as little as 7% of its original habitat remains.

Sumatran tigers are excellent swimmers thanks to their webbed paws, and have stripes that are closer together than most other species of the big cat.

Mike Jordan, director of Animals and Plants at Chester Zoo, said: “Dash is a handsome, confident young tiger and he’s quickly settled into his new surroundings. He’s been carefully matched with female tiger Kasarna, based on his age, character and his genetics, and we’re hopeful that they’ll soon strike up a close bond and, one day, go on to have cubs.

Read more: Chester Zoo to stay open after hours so you can see the nocturnal animals

“Sumatran tigers are exceptionally rare and, sadly, their wild population continues to feel enormous pressure from mass-scale habitat loss, poaching and human-tiger conflict.

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“Their prospect of survival is hanging by a thread and the endangered species breeding programme, run by Europe’s leading conservation zoos, is a vitally important part of the international effort to ensure these magnificent animals are here for generations to come. Every single cub could be critical to its future.

“Without conservation efforts like these, the future for the Sumatran tiger may soon look similar to that of Javan, Caspian and Balinese tigers, which heartbreakingly are all now extinct. We have it in our power not to let that happen and we’re going to do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t.”

Featured image: Chester Zoo