The sound of roaring tigers can be heard at the John Ball Zoo.

The Crawford Tigers of the Realm exhibit is featured at the John Ball Zoo. The exhibit will mirror the natural habitat of Amur tigers, complete with a flourishing forest.

Amur tigers are the biggest cats in the world and live in parts of the Amur River basin in the Russian Far East. Interestingly, the latitude is similar to Northern Michigan. Males can reach 11 feet long and weigh 600 pounds. More than any other cats, Amur tigers rely on their sense of sight, which is six times better than a human's eyesight.

Tigers of the Realm features three tigers. Eight-year-old brothers Yuri and Kuza from Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. Nika, a thirteen-year-old female, came to John Ball Zoo from Potter Park Zoo in Lansing. The Tigers arrived in 2014 and spent a couple weeks in quarantine before they entered their new home.

Kuzi and Yuri enjoy playing together in the snow.

Kuzi and Yuri enjoy playing together in the snow.

Photo Credit: Tina Cox

The nearly 24,000 square foot exhibit will feature two viewable habitats, a picnic and children's play area, tiger trails and a path which will allow zoo visitors to walk the trail with the tigers as they move from one habitat to another.

There are only about 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild. A hunting ban in the 1930s helped increase the tiger population, but created a genetic bottleneck and thereby low genetic variation in wild tigers. Thanks to breeding programs in zoos there is a much higher degree of genetic variation and hence a healthier population. A healthy zoo population can help provide genetic diversity in the wild tiger population.

Be sure to check out the impressive new addition to John Ball Zoo when it opens. The tigers are looking forward to seeing you!

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