Gaia, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's 15-year-old Amur tiger, was sent out on exhibit loan to the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville, Indiana yesterday. The Zoo's other two Amur tigers, Dasha and Klechka, remain on exhibit in the Northern Trek area.
The 236-pound female tiger was taken to Evansville via truck by a USDA-licensed animal transport specialist. She arrived safely after the roughly eight hour trip.
The transfer to Mesker Park was recommended by the Amur tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Species Survival Plans are cooperative breeding and management groups for endangered or threatened species including black rhinos, lowland gorillas, polar bears and African elephants.
Gaia came to Cleveland in 1998 from the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minnesota, where she was born in 1996. During her time in Cleveland, Gaia gave birth to two cubs, one male and one female, in 2001. Her male cub, Danya, now lives at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the Zoo hopes her female offspring, Dasha, now 10, will breed with Klechka.
Amur tigers are the largest cat species in the world. Adult male Amur tigers can grow up to 12 feet long and weigh up to 675 pounds. Amur tigers are also one of the most endangered mammals on the planet with less than 500 remaining in the wild. Formerly known as Siberian tigers, Amur tigers are native to eastern Russia and northeastern China in the Amur River valley and Sikhote Alin mountain range.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Through March 31, 2012, admission is discounted to $8 per person, $5 for kids ages 2 to 11 and is free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
For more information, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.