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Incredible New Tiger Trail at Safari Park - San Diego

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Was at Safari Park (formerly called the Wild Animal Park) yesterday - for a day of SD Zoo/Safari Park volunteer training - prior to the new Tiger Trial being opened to the public later this month.

For those of you who used to take the old tram - and then try to see the Tiger as the tram went by their enclosure - if you were lucky - you might see a tail twitching in the brush - this is a completely different experience.

It's now an area/trail - off the Condor Ridge - made possible by a generous donation from the Tull family - and the total cost was about $19.5 million and took about 18 months to complete.

There are three separate new "yards" - an acre each - where the six Samatran Tigers will be hanging out.

Yesterday - we were privileged to first see the breeding male -Teddy - who is 10 yrs young and was received from the Fort Wayne Zoo in a cooperative breeding program among the accredited Zoos - and he is in fine fettle with his big white Ruff (mane) and long whiskers/"Vibrissa".

Utan - the former breeding male - really did his job - and set a record by spawning a pair of males/brothers - when he was 21 years old and may he RIP.

In the next yard are the two-three year old brothers (sons of Utan) - who are just picture perfect and the only way you can tell these magnificent guys apart is that Conrad is a wee bit bigger than Thomas - and Conrad also has a darker stripe running down the middle of his forehead.

And our guide/keeper - Lori - also took us behind the scenes to their "apartments" - which have ""howdy" windows - steel wire see-through "windows" in the pens - the so the Tigers can greet/see each other when the Tigers stay off-exhibit.

Lori hand fed (small chunks of meat that fit through the steel wire mesh) treats to the two beautiful sisters - Juann and Majel - who are 4 years old - and they proudly walked up and down the walkway - curiously eyeballing us - as we are really about the first "visitors".

The older breeding female - Delta - who is 16 and has had 4 litters - is still not that comfortable in the new enclosure - or else she feels as the resident Queen - she did not have to make an appearance for us?

Anyhow - if you come to San Diego - I am confident you too will be very amazed with the new Tiger Trail at Safari Park. It's designed to show why these big powerful cats are Critically Endangered in the wild - as in the island of Sumatra - off the southern end of Malaysia - they have lost half of their rain forests in the last 30 years - and only 300 of these beauties remain in the wild there and about the same number in zoos.

If they lose their rain forest and other similar habitat - they can't have the food (primarily Sambar Deer - but Tigers are very adaptable) - and shelter that they need to survive.

Tigers are also prized in Eastern Medicine for their various body parts - so poaching has also been a big problem..

Other Tiger populations/sub-species are suffering worldwide too - and there are only about 3,000 Tigers in total left in the wild - which includes the Amur/Siberian (the biggest) - to the north of Asia, Bengal Tigers in India, the South China Tiger - which has all but been wiped out in the wild as it was declared a "pest" in the early 50's - and eradicated, and the Malayasian and IndoChinese Tigers.

Three sub-species are completely gone/extinct - which are the Bali, Java and Caspian.

In closing - please enjoy coming out to see these Tigers and other great animals at the Safari Park - and also the Malay Tigers at the SD Zoo - and you are helping provide for their survival by visiting us. :)

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