Zoo shows off stripes, spots during ‘Tiger and Leopard Awareness Day’

September 26, 2012 - 10:09am

Banfield Pet Hospital sponsors zoo day in honor of cats, Sept. 30

Two critically endangered cats will share the spotlight Sept. 30, during the zoo's first Tiger and Leopard Awareness Day, presented by Banfield Pet Hospital.

Visitors can learn more about the zoo's Amur tigers (Mikhail and Nicole) and leopards (Borris and Kia). These cats' wild counterparts, native to the Amur region of southeast Russia, are among the most endangered big cats in the world. Fewer than 500 Amur tigers are believed to remain in the wild, and the number of Amur leopards is estimated to be fewer than 40.

Zookeepers, veterinarians and volunteers will be on hand to talk with visitors about preventive care for both wild and domestic cats. ZooGuides will discuss ways to help wild tigers and leopards, keepers will talk about caring for the zoo's big cats, and Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarians will share information on how to keep domestic companion cats healthy.

Talks will take place as follows:

      • 11 a.m. at tigers: Keeper talk – crate training and medical exams. Banfield veterinarian talk – understanding comprehensive medical exams for your domestic cats
      • Noon at leopards: ZooGuide animal talk – social dynamics of big cats. Banfield veterinarian talk – introducing new pets to your household; introducing pets to babies
      • 1 p.m. at leopards: Keeper talk – nutrition, weight management and exercise for big cats. Banfield veterinarian talk – nutrition, weight management and exercise for domestic cats
      • 2 p.m. at tigers: ZooGuide animal talk – preventive care and birth control for big cats. Banfield veterinarian talk – preventive care for your cats

At each presentation, Banfield will distribute free cat decoders, which help cat lovers better understand feline behavior at home and in the wild.

North American and European zoos are participating in coordinated breeding programs to help preserve Amur cats, though neither the zoo's tigers nor leopards are breeding pairs. Tigers Mikhail and Nicole are brother and sister, while Kia, who turns 17 next month, is quite old for an Amur leopard and her reproductive years are behind her. (Kia has, however, given birth to 10 cubs over her lifetime, and is the "cover girl" for this year's cooperative breeding and transfer plan put out by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.)