March 7, 2019

Denver Zoo Welcomes New Amur Tiger

Could Yuri Be the “Purrfect” Match for Nikita?

The EDGE is the newest exhibit at the Zoo, and it’s now home to one of our newest—and most exciting—residents. Yuri, an eight-year-old, 435-pound Amur tiger, arrived in late January by way of Bronx Zoo at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, and has spent the last several weeks getting comfortable in his new home. He will soon get paired with eight-year-old Nikita and, with any luck, make a very valuable contribution to his endangered species.

Assistant Curator of Carnivores Janee Zakoren says they are waiting for Yuri to adjust to his habitat and with his new caretakers before making the big introduction to Nikita.

“The two tigers can already see each other from various points in the exhibit, and Nikita is showing signs that she's ready to meet her new mate,” said Zakoren. “You can hear them ‘talking’ to each other most afternoons. She is definitely excited by his presence.”

Because Yuri hasn’t sired any cubs yet, his genetics are particularly valuable to zoos’ collective efforts to save the species and maintain a healthy, genetically-diverse population of Amur tigers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Amur tigers as “Endangered,” primarily due to poaching of tigers as well as their wild prey species.

Yuri was born at the Erie Zoo in 2010, but has spent seven of his eight years at the Bronx Zoo. Eagle-eyed viewers may recognize him from Animal Planet’s The Zoo, which takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo. He is making more frequent appearances in one of the two main yards in The EDGE, which brings guests closer than ever to our two tigers. Visitors can identify him by the heart-shaped markings above his eyes and his size—he’s close to double Nikita’s weight!

The EDGE features multiple yards and connecting bridges that allow tigers to stride 12 feet over guests’ heads, and a viewing area with a perforated wall that brings visitors mere inches from the tigers. The habitat mimics their natural habitat with a dozen 120-year-old pine trees to provide shade, as well as large pools to keep them cool and provide enrichment.

Be sure to visit Yuri and Nikita on your next visit, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for exclusive updates and information!

Want to get behind-the-scenes with Yuri and Nikita? Sign up for an Up-Close Animal Encounter at The EDGE for an unforgettable experience with one of these majestic animals. Learn more


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