A male Amur tiger, part of an extremely threatened species, has moved in with female tiger Dominica in the Scottish Highlands, and the pairing is already proving to be a 'roaring' success, according to zoo officials.
Marty, the thre-year-old tiger, is a powerful and agile youngster. Amur tigers are the world's largest species of cat, so Marty could weigh up to 420 pounds (190 kilograms) when fully grown.
Exceptionally rare animals, Amur (or Siberian) tigers are listed as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that there are only between 400 and 450 left in the wild. From the Amur region of the Russian Far East, next to the Chinese border, the population once numbered less than 50; they are still threatened due to habitat loss, poaching for their skins and the traditional medicine trade.
The Highland Wildlife Park is a great success story when it comes to breeding these rare and striking animals. Marty's love match Dominica, and her sister Natalia who recently left for a zoo in Portugal, were both born at the park in 2009 to parents Sasha and Yuri. Marty will be the first adult male Amur tiger in the Highlands since Yuri passed away in 2010. Sasha, the Park's matriarchal tiger, was painlessly put to sleep in March of this year due to a noticeable deterioration in her health and well-being.
It is hoped that this young feisty couple, Marty and Dominica, will have the same success when it comes to producing cubs. The pair seem to have hit it off, with mating behavior being observed soon after they were introduced, and Marty and Dominica are now spending their days together. Still separate at night, it is hoped that Marty will move in with Dominica full time in due course.
"There is a high likelihood that Marty and Dominica will produce cubs together in the future, and it would be wonderful if Dominica takes after her mother Sasha who was a natural at parenting," said Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager at the Highland Wildlife Park. "Any cubs born to this pair would be the first Amur tiger cubs at the park in three years. Very significant for the park, these cubs would help enhance the long-term viability of the crucial captive breeding programme and ultimately the survival of this species."