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EL PASO ZOO WELCOMES MALAYAN TIGER, BELAHAT, AS ITS NEWEST RESIDENT

New Breeding Protocol to be Implemented

El Paso, Texas (May 8, 2012) The El Paso Zoo is happy to welcome a new addition to their zoo. Belahat, a 13-year-old male Malayan Tiger arrived at the zoo on April 24. Belahat has been transferred to the El Paso Zoo from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to breed with three-year-old Seri as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP).

"We are happy to welcome Belahat to our zoo. He is a smart, mellow cat and he is a proven breeder. Breeding animals that are critically endangered is very important in order to maintain their population and we take this part of our mission very serious," said Steve Marshall, Zoo Director.

Belehat has not yet been introduced to his new exhibit or future breeding mate Seri. He is currently in quarantine in the animal hospital at the zoo which is standard for all new animals. Belahat will be in quarantine for 30 days and after that he will be transferred to the Asia Forest Complex where he will be introduced to his new trainers/keepers and his bedroom. He will get the opportunity to bond with keepers for about one month before visitors can see him out on exhibit. Belahat, as well as the zoos other two Malayan tigers, Meli and Seri, will be out on exhibit in rotation.

Belahat and Seri, breeding tigers, will be introduced behind the scenes for breeding purposes only when Seri is in estrous (during receptive period). The two tigers are on loan from other zoos based on a breeding recommendation from the AZA's SSP to aid in their conservation. The SSP's mission is to conserve species such as the Malayan tiger which are currently critically endangered. It is estimated that approximately 500 Malayan tigers currently remain in the wild (Siedensticker et al. 2010). There currently about 56 Malayan tigers living in North American AZA accredited zoos.

There are two recommended or commonly used breeding procedures for tigers in a zoological setting. In the past, the El Paso Zoo has used both procedures- one procedure allows breeding tigers to be kept on exhibit together and the other procedure calls for them to only be introduced during estrous. Due to Seri's past behavior, the zoo will keep her and Belahat separate and will only provide them full contact during her estrous cycle.

"I have confidence in the El Paso Zoo's capability to create a successful pairing with these two tigers," said Mike Dulaney, Vice Coordinator of the Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) who recommended this genetically important male be paired with Seri at our facility.

About El Paso Zoo

Locally recognized as the Best Place to Take the Kiddos, the El Paso Zoo sits on 35 acres of fun and adventure. Bigger and better than ever, the El Paso Zoo is an expansive green space that is home to exotic animals from around the world and features family attractions such as the African Star train and the Hunt Family Desert Spring. Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the El Paso Zoo celebrates the value of animals and natural resources and creates opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org. For news and exclusive content, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/elpasozoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/theelpasozoo).



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El Paso Zoo's Mission
Our mission is to celebrate the value of animals and natural resources and to create opportunities for people to rediscover their connection to nature.