Nancy Filippi, Managing Director of Operations and Marketing for the Oakland Zoo, tells a sad but interesting tale about the history of its four new tigers, which go on display to the public Saturday. The tigers come from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, by way of the United States Department of Agriculture.
“The Brownsville zoo was asked by the USDA to foster them for a time to find a suitable home,” Ms. Filippi says. “Originally, they were part of some 6-7,000 tigers that are privately owned in the U.S. They were being used as part of a traveling animal show where guests could pay $20 to have their photos taken with real tiger cubs. And that means the animals were pulled prematurely from their mothers. They should spend the first two years of their life with them.” Ms. Filippi says this type of thing is a big problem in states allowing the public to own big cats.
The zoo was originally in the market for just two tigers, after one of the pair it owned died last year. “We were asked if we’d consider taking four of them and after much thought on the part of our executive director and curator it was decided we’d do it,” Ms. Filippi says.
The four tigers are six years old and are all related, sharing either the same mother or father. Tigers typically live into their 20s in captivity, Ms. Filippi says. The zoo added a multi-tiered platform structure to its tiger exhibit while the tigers were in quarantine. Zoo patrons will be able to view the tigers from overhead.
The zoo has put up a video recounting the tigers’ history. In the video, the director of the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownville says every big cat the facility owns had first been confiscated by the USDA.