A tiger is back at the Sacramento Zoo, but please be quiet until the new resident has a chance to settle in.
Jillian, a 4-year-old Sumatran tiger, arrived this week from the San Francisco Zoo, where she was born. While a recent arrival to Sacramento, her grandparents were longtime Sacramento Zoo residents.
Zoo spokeswoman Tonja Candelaria said Jillian is a grandcub of Baha and Castro. Castro died at age 16 in 2014 from lymphoma. He had five cubs with his mate, Baha.
Baha died in February 2016 from injuries suffered when she was introduced to the male tiger Mohan from the Memphis Zoo. Mohan was transferred 30 days ago from Sacramento to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Wash.
The transfer of 213-pound Jillian from San Francisco was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The organization has a Sumatran tiger species survival plan that organizes zoo efforts to preserve the animals.
For now, Jillian is the only tiger at the zoo, and there are no breeding plans for her. “In the future there may be a male that comes in, or she may go off to another zoo,” Candelaria said.
Candeleria said Jillian is adjusting to new noises and her enclosure. She asks that zoo visitors stay quiet if they are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the inquisitive young adult tiger.
“She’s a pretty girl,” said Candelaria on Wednesday. “This is day two and she has yet to make her appearance. She’s stayed back in her bedroom. She’s peeked her head out a few times, and we are giving her all the space she needs and wants.”
In the past century, four of nine tiger subspecies have gone extinct in their natural habitats, according to the zoo. Fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are believed to exist in the wild, and approximately 200 live in zoos around the world.
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered and found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Sumatran tigers are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies.
The World Wildlife Fund notes that in Indonesia poachers can face jail time and large fines. However, a market remains in Sumatra and the rest of Asia for tiger parts – and poaching shows no sign of decline, according to the organization. The tigers are also losing habitat and prey.
As for the departed Mohan, the male will never be paired with another tiger again. Unlike social animals such as elephants and apes, tigers are solitary animals.
However, Mohan will participate in an artificial insemination program. He is an important tiger because his genetic makeup is different from other tigers in captivity.
“That is why he went to Point Defiance, because they have the ability to do the artificial insemination there,” Candelaria said.