With fewer than 500 left in the wild, Sumatran tigers are very near becoming extinct in their natural environment, which is why the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) is working with groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society on its Reverse the Decline initiative to develop strategies for saving the last of these big cats.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species lists the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae) as Critically Endangered — facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. According to IUCN, the Sumatran Tiger is declining due to high rates of habitat loss and fragmentation, which also occur inside protected areas. There are also high levels of human-tiger conflict, as well as illegal trade in tiger parts.
But life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida is different for the park’s resident Sumatran tigers. And starting this week, guests at the Animal Kingdom may get a glimpse of Anala and Jeda, the first Sumatran tiger cubs to be born at the park. “The nearly four-month-old cubs are slowly being introduced into their habitat on Maharajah Jungle Trek,” Disney said on its Disney Parks blog. The sister-and-brother pair will be visible periodically to the public as they acclimate to their new area.
As part of its efforts to save the Sumatran tiger, Disney participates in the Species Survival Plan, a breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which helps ensure a diverse, healthy population of threatened and endangered species for years to come.
“Our dedicated and highly trained team of animal care experts and veterinarians spent three years preparing for the birth of these Sumatran tigers and have worked tirelessly to provide them with the best possible care so they can grow and thrive. Part of this work included creating a special new backstage play area where the tiger cubs could learn to swim and climb before venturing into their habitat at Maharajah Jungle Trek,” the park said on its blog post.