Amur tiger Zeya leaves Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo for Syracuse as part of Species Survival Plan

One of two rare Amur tigers at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo was on the move Tuesday in order to keep her endangered species alive.

News 12 Staff

Sep 29, 2020, 11:45 PM

Updated 1,364 days ago

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One of two rare Amur tigers at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo was on the move Tuesday in order to keep her endangered species alive.
Zeya left the zoo in the morning, and headed to her new home at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is part of a national effort called the Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Its goal is to preserve and protect critically endangered animal populations, including Amur tigers.
News 12 is told there's only about 200 left in the wild and 200 under human care in North America. For years, accredited zoos across the country have teamed up to put potential mates together for breeding purposes.
With Zeya about to turn 3 years old, she was matched with a male Amur tiger in Syracuse.
Zoo Director Gregg Dancho says it's a complicated process, with the Species Survival Program using age and genetics to figure out which animals have the best chance of having offspring.
"This is a matchmaking program," he says. "It's also, we can call it, computer dating... a little Tinder for tigers."
Zeya and sister, Reka, were born in 2017 at the zoo and made headlines across the country because they were successfully hand-reared by zoo staff.
"Unfortunately, their mother - Chiangbai - had no interest in raising them so we stepped in to try to have them be successful members of tiger society," says Bethany Thatcher, an animal care specialist. "What we want to see happen is for them to go on and have cubs of their own and raise them on their own."
Reka remains at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. The zoo hopes a potential mate will be found for Reka in the near future, which could mean bringing a new male tiger to Bridgeport.
"We're trying to match these animals up so it makes the most sense with the best possibility of keeping the population viable for the next 100 years," says Dancho.
Zeya and Reka's parents were previously moved to other zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan.


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