11 February 2012
At Australia Zoo we have ten tigers who call the tiger temple home and given that tigers prefer a solitary lifestyle, you can easily imagine that each tiger wants to stake his or her claim over a particular enclosure!
Their solitary nature in the wild means they have to protect their home or habitat by continually leaving fresh evidence that the area is taken. They do this by patrolling the perimeter and leaving scent markings, visual scratch marks and of course faecal matter in obvious places. Tigers have scent glands all over their body which, when they roll around in long grass or rub themselves against their surroundings, their scent is left behind. The same thing happens when a tiger spray marks using urine, it becomes a message to other tigers passing by that this area is occupied and to steer clear!
Tigers in captivity share the same natural instinct as their wild cousins and here at Australia Zoo, our tiger facility is set up in such a way that our tigers can explore several different yards on any given day. This is great natural stimulation as each enclosure is designed differently, but also encourages natural territorial behaviour and we often find our tigers will spend the first few moments in a new exhibit smelling areas where other tigers have scent marked and then covering it up with their own!
As powerful and majestic as tigers are, there's nothing quite like seeing a 130kg cat bear hugging a tree and rubbing his head all over it as though he's in love! They may be the king of the jungle but just like their distant relatives the house cat, they are full of personality and it doesn't take much for them to make you smile!
With as little as 4000 tigers remaining, it is more important than ever that we see the beauty in our stripy friends and create awareness for their decline. Humans are ultimately the biggest threat tigers face in the wild but this means we can be their saviour. One person can make a difference; all it takes is the right choice!
To get involved or learn more please visit: www.australiazoo.com.au/conservation/projects/tigers/
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