Friday 29th July 2022 marks World Tiger Day and due to the populations of tigers becoming increasingly under threat, raising awareness of their plight has never been so important.
Paignton Zoo is home to two Sumatran tigers which are Critically Endangered in the wild. On the run up to World Tiger Day the tigers were visited by four members of 814 Naval Air Squadron, known as The Flying Tigers due their distinctive squadron crest. The squadron are based in the South West and are very proud of its tiger heritage, with one of their aircraft painted in distinctive tiger stripes.
Lt Dom Raeyen, one of the pilots on the squadron, said: “Coming to Paignton Zoo is an amazing opportunity to see these incredible creatures up close, and to see first-hand some of the conservation work that is being undertaken to help safeguard the future of the tigers that we take so much of our squadron identity from.”
During their visit the squadron were able to witness the tigers being fed which takes place before opening hours. As part of the feed, keepers had stuffed raw meat into a wooden deer covered in fur to prompt the tiger’s natural instinct to hunt. Activities such as this are known as enrichment which aims to provide stimulation for captive animals and encourage their natural behaviour. Enrichment is regularly used at Paignton Zoo as part of a carefully constructed behavioural programme to keep animals active and engaged with their surroundings.
Steve Nash, Head of Campaigns and Programmes said: “We were delighted to welcome the Flying Tigers to Paignton Zoo. We are a conservation charity and we act to help halt species decline. We welcome any opportunities to raise awareness of our animals and help us in our mission. Tigers are beautiful creatures and unless we take action their future is under threat.”
Destruction of forest habitat is one of the main threats to Sumatran tigers occurring due to unsustainable palm oil plantations. Palm oil, which is an edible vegetable oil, is typically found in a variety of different products.
Steve continued: “We at Paignton Zoo and our sister site Newquay Zoo are urging our visitors to look for the sustainable palm oil logo when grocery shopping. By avoiding products which use unsustainably sourced palm oil we can reduce the impact of habitat loss and save animals like Sumatran tigers.”
Paignton Zoo’s tigers, called Padme and Carrie are sisters, they were born in Denmark and will turn three later this year. They are both too young to breed but once they reach maturity they will be paired appropriately with males as they are both part of a European breeding programme.
As a charity all of Paignton Zoo’s proceeds go towards supporting conservation projects both in the UK and overseas. To find out more or to book tickets to see the tigers in person visit our tickets page.
Support our tigers and conservation around the world
Sponsoring a tiger at Paignton Zoo will make a real contribution to the care of our big cats and wildlife conservation work across the world. Find out more on our tiger sponsorship page.