Darjeeling Zoo welcomes two Siberian Tigers as part of animal exchange program with Cyprus

Siberian Tigers
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After a 12-year wait, Siberian tigers have finally returned to India at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling. Two 18-month-old male tigers, Lara and Akamas, made the long journey from Pafos Zoo in Cyprus as part of an animal exchange program between India and Cyprus.

The last Siberian tiger India hosted died at the Nainital Zoo in 2011 due to age-related problems, while the last Siberian tiger at the Darjeeling Zoo died in 2007. The two tigers brought from Cyprus are expected to be placed in public display enclosures by early 2024 as a New Year’s gift.

Lara and Akamas were flown in a specially-equipped cargo plane and then transported by road in two temperature-controlled ambulances to their new Himalayan home. Upon arrival, they were placed in quarantine enclosures where their health conditions would be monitored for a month before being kept in public display enclosures.

The Siberian tigers were exchanged with a pair of Himalayan Red Pandas as part of the animal exchange programme the Zoo had been following since 1986. The two pandas have been sent to Cyprus’s Pafos Zoo.

This exchange marks a significant moment for conservation efforts and adds a new chapter to the Darjeeling zoo’s story. The Darjeeling Zoo which currently has 25 Red Pandas, is globally known for its conservation and breeding efforts for the endangered Red Panda.

Darjeeling Zoo was established in 1958 and holds a unique distinction as the only special zoo in India recognized globally for its efforts in conserving endangered species like Red Pandas, Snow Leopards and Tibetan Wolves. It is one of the best zoos in India and holds the distinction of being India’s largest high-altitude zoo, with an area of 67.56 acres.

Siberian tigers are classified as endangered by the IUCN, with their wild population estimated to be around 500 individuals. The species are found in eastern Russia, China and possibly North Korea. Proper arrangements have been made for the tigers accustomed to cold conditions to ensure their comfort. It is expected that they would soon adapt to the cold climate of Darjeeling.

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