Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — The fall forecast at Oakland Zoo is stripes. Four tiger sisters make their debut. Oakland Zoo welcomes Molly, Milou, Grace, and Ginger. The tigers have been in quarantine for several weeks, which is a standard protocol at the Oakland Zoo, to make sure the animals are healthy and acclimated to their new surroundings before making a public appearance.
HOW DID THE TIGERS END UP IN OAKLAND? A Texas couple hand-raised the girls from birth and supplemented their income by using the cute kittens as money makers with the public. Their marriage ended in divorce, the cats were awarded to the wife, but she did not have a place to keep them. Her ex-husband found the four adult tigers to be too expensive to support and was faced with the decision of either putting the cats down or giving them away. The Gladys Porter Zoo and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) stepped in to find the cats a new home. For four years, the Gladys Porter Zoo cared for the animals and vowed not to split up the four females. However, the zoo’s tiger capacity soon reached its limit with ten tigers residing in the facility. Oakland Zoo found out about the predicament and decided to take all four cats. “This was really an act of compassion. We heard about these tigers and felt we could give them a good home,” said Dr. Parrott, Executive Director of Oakland Zoo.
TIGER TRANSPORT: TIGERS ON A PLANE On Tuesday, September 6, 2011 the tiger transport journey began. Four Oakland Zoo staffers flew to Brownsville, Texas to meet tigers: Molly, Milou, Grace, and Ginger. The 300 pound tigers were loaded into crates borrowed from Animal Defenders International on the evening of September 7, 2011 and transported via truck and van from Brownsville, Texas to the Alliance airport in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, September 8, 2011. FedEx generously donated the flight fees for the four tigers and three Oakland Zoo staffers. “None of this would have been possible without the generous gift of flight from the FedEx Express operation. We are very grateful,” said Nancy Filippi, Managing Director, Operations and Marketing for Oakland Zoo.
“FedEx moves hundreds of thousands of shipments through our Oakland hub each day, and they’re all important to us and to our customers. But this one was extra special,” said Robin Van Galder, managing director, FedEx Express Oakland Hub. “We’ve helped rescue endangered animals of many species around the world over the years. FedEx is especially proud of the part we played in rescuing these tigers and bringing them to their new home in a city where we’ve been a major employer for more than 30 years.”
Before daylight on Friday, September 9, 2011, the tigers and staff arrived safely at the FedEx terminal in Oakland. However, that was not the end of the trip. For several hours, FedEx employees and Oakland Zoo animal keepers carefully forklifted the tiger crates onto a truck, strapped down the containers, and trucked the tigers two at a time to the Oakland Zoo. Each tiger was then introduced to their night house. It was a delicate process that involved strict safety measures, patience, and lots of logistics.
For the past several weeks, aside from becoming familiar with their new zoo keepers, the four females have been getting acquainted with new digs: a night house, outdoor yard, and holding area. The four sisters love the taste of goat’s milk, which keepers spray into their mouths. Rubbing on objects spritzed in Calvin Klein’s Obsession perfume is also a pastime; it’s a scent the tigers seem thrilled to wear. “We are very happy to be able to provide the tiger sisters with their forever home,” said Colleen Kinzley, Oakland Zoo Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Research. “It brings us great joy to see the tigers enjoying environmental enrichments like goats milk treats, exploring scents, and playing with their tiger size toys. Caring for captive wildlife is not just about providing them with a spacious, complex, environment; it is also about providing stimulation and variety through enrichment and husbandry training. We appreciate all of the people involved in bringing these tigers to the Oakland Zoo.”
GENERIC TIGERS IN TEXAS Since generic tigers are legal in the Lone Star state, some estimate that more tigers live in Texas than in the wild. Generic tigers are tigers that are not purebred; oftentimes, the bloodlines have been crossed or inbred with multiple breeds of tiger. Because of the cost and danger associated with adult tigers, many zoos and rescue organizations in Texas are faced with endless calls about unwanted big cats. “The tigers are cute as cubs; however, as they grow into adulthood, they eat around ten pounds of meat per day, which is an expense many people realize they cannot afford,” said zoo officials at the Gladys Porter Zoo. Veterinary care is also a challenge because most vets do not carry insurance to treat big cats. The once cuddly kitten that seemed like a great idea grows into a wild animal that can become unpredictable.
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.
The East Bay Zoological Society EBZS is celebrating 75 years. The society has managed and operated both the Zoo and surrounding Knowland Park for the City of Oakland since 1982. Under its management, the Oakland Zoo presents an award-winning experience for visitors, fosters knowledge and understanding of animals and the environment through educational programs, and has earned national awards and international acclaim for its animal management and endangered species programs. Over the years, exhibit by exhibit, the Oakland Zoo has been reinvigorated and revitalized, making it a place where animals thrive and visitors enjoy. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.