Raja, a 23 month-old male golden tiger, has been selected by the international stud book coordinator for Sumatran tigers as a mate for Soraya who arrived at Dreamworld in 2003.
Raja will be relocated from Zoo Krefeld near Dusseldorf to Dreamworld’s Tiger Island as part of the Australasian Species Management Program for Sumatran tigers, internationally recognised and supported by governments throughout the region.
Set to touch down on December 1st, Raja will spend his first 30 days in quarantine at Dreamworld before joining Soraya in their purpose-built off-exhibit tiger facility at Tiger Island.
With less than 400 left in the wild, Sumatran tigers are listed as one of the world’s most critically endangered species by the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), supported by 190 countries world wide.
There are currently 235 Sumatran tigers in zoos world-wide including 20 within the Australasian region.
Chair of the Australasian Species Management Program (ASMP) and Director of Adelaide Zoo, Mark Craig hailed the move as a big win for tiger conservation.
“This import is a significant contribution to the Australasian Sumatran Tiger captive management program and confirms Dreamworld’s commitment and major contribution to conservation and education programs for this critically endangered species.”
Dreamworld Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gregg said the park was honoured and excited to receive a second Sumatran Tiger, especially one of such high importance to the region.
“We are very proud of our ongoing efforts to help save tigers in the wild through donations and on
the ground support,” Mr Gregg said.
“Welcoming Raja to Dreamworld is yet another step to help save this magnificent species from extinction.”
Dreamworld’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Bradley said the park hoped to hear the pitter-patter of tiny paws in late 2006.
“If all goes to plan, we aim to breed Soraya and Raja in about a years time,” Mr Bradley said.
“Their offspring will then be raised by Tiger Island staff and remain at Tiger Island until they are required by other zoos for breeding.
“Sadly, these tigers can not be released back into the wild due to the high rate of habitat destruction and poaching. Our aim is simply to ensure the appropriate genetic management of the remaining captive population of the species in the hope that one day we may be able to re-populate areas where Sumatran tigers have been wiped out.”
Dreamworld’s Tiger Island Manager Patrick Martin-Vegue met Raja when he visited Germany earlier this year.
“Raja seemed like a really friendly, well adjusted cat but like Soraya he has had limited human contact and can’t be handled,” Mr Martin-Vegue said.
“He will not mix with our Bengal tigers but hopefully he will get on really well with Soraya and we’ll see some cubs soon.”
Mr Martin-Vegue will travel to Germany to collect Raja this Friday.
The import of Raja will boost Sumatran tiger numbers in the Australasian region to 20 (ten male, ten female) across 12 zoos, including Dreamworld, Taronga Zoo (Sydney), The National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra, Melbourne Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, Perth Zoo, Australia Zoo, (Qld), Mogo Zoo (NSW) and Western Plains Zoo (Dubbo), plus Auckland Zoo, Wellington Zoo and Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand.
Dreamworld’s Tiger Island is currently home to seven Bengal tigers, one Sumatran tiger and two cougars. The attraction can house up to 14 tigers at one time.
The park’s resident Sumatran tiger Soraya was imported from Tier Park Zoo in Germany in 2003 as part of the Australian Species Management Program.
Sumatran Tigers are smaller and darker than Bengal tigers. Raja currently weighs 85 kilograms. When fully grown at three years of age, he’ll tip the scales at about 130 kilograms.
In comparison, male Bengal tigers can grow up to 230 kilograms. Dreamworld’s largest Bengal tiger is Sultan who weighs around 200 kilos.
Tiger Island is an interactive sanctuary where Bengal tigers play wrestle and swim with their handlers every day.
In addition to supporting the Sumatran Tiger Program, Dreamworld makes a significant contribution to tiger conservation on a global scale through the park’s Tiger Fund.
To date, Dreamworld has donated over $300,000 to saving tigers in the wild through the Dreamworld Tiger Fund by donating directly to the following programs.
• Flora and Fauna International
• LifeForce Satpura National Park Project India
• 21st Century Tiger (another UK based charity)
• Sumatran Tiger project
• Taman Safari Park
• The Phoenix Fund
Working closely with these organisations, Dreamworld actively contributes to anti-poaching activity including anti-poaching patrols on the ground in Indonesia, India and Russia, Ranger salaries, the purchase of medical equipment and patrol vehicles, intelligence and legal activity.
The money also goes towards regeneration and protection of tiger habitat including village relocation.
A registered zoo, Dreamworld is located on Queensland’s Gold Coast, 25 minutes north of Surfers Paradise and 40 minutes from Brisbane. The park is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Christmas Day and Anzac Day morning (25/4).
Entry to Tiger Island is included in the general Dreamworld admission price.
For more details and on-line tickets visit dreamworld.com.au.