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At its most essential level, the Zoo cultivates a bond between visitors and animals. Zoo Miami has always prided itself on the quality of our exhibits and our ability to bring people closer to the animal kingdom. We must continue to set new standards for animal care and the visitor experience.
One of the first exhibits visitors encounter when they begin their tour of the Zoo is the magnificent Sumatran Tiger. Found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, these small tigers are instantly recognizable by the “beard” around their faces and their dense stripe pattern. Experts estimate that only 300-400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the wild, and we are indeed fortunate to have three of these remarkable animals in our care: Berani (male), Leeloo (female) and their second offspring, N’dari.
A key objective of our Connecting for Life campaign is to create the world’s finest Sumatran Tiger exhibit. Our plans will double the space of our existing exhibit, introduce an Asian-themed gateway and viewing pavilion, and provide for future expansion, including additional outdoor exercise yards. Once guests cross a moat and enter the pavilion, they will have a unique opportunity to get nose-to-nose with the tigers, pressing hands against paws with only a layer of glass separation. Visitors also will see zookeepers training, feeding and caring for the tigers and learn about the tigers’ peculiarities from our own experts.
When the new exhibit is complete, our tigers will have more space to roam and explore a world more closely resembling their natural habitat. They will have the freedom to be outside 24 hours a day, which reflects the Zoo’s core philosophy that animal welfare comes first. Giving our animals choices improves their physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.
With fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and only 72 living in zoos across the United States including three at Zoo Miami, the birth of a Sumatran Tiger is always a cause for great celebration. On December 22, 2020, the veterinary team at Zoo Miami was awestruck when they were doing an ultrasound on Leeloo, our 11 year old Sumatran Tiger. They confirmed that she was pregnant and this was a sort of miracle pregnancy because the father Berani, who is 14 years old and on the verge of being geriatric, was not believed to be fertile. In fact, our animal science team was just days away from bringing in another male tiger from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to mate with Leeloo in the hopes of producing offspring, as per breeding recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP).
On the idyllic sunny afternoon of January 5, 2021, the Miracle at Zoo Miami arrived with the birth of N’dari, the second offspring to Leeloo and Berani. Having celebrated her first birthday in January 2022, N’dari is rapidly becoming a majestic tigress like her mother and providing renewed hope for a species on the brink of extinction. Along with her brother Satu who now lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we are ushering in a new generation of miracles and we hope you join us on this journey. With our plans to expand the Sumatran tiger exhibit, more stories like this will be possible with expanding breeding capabilities. We hope you take part in helping us keep these majestic creatures from disappearing forever.