18 April 2012
Ever wondered what it takes to keep a tiger healthy? Well, this week we visited the Australia Zoo Tiger Temple to see firsthand what happens during a big cat health check.
We were lucky to witness Australia Zoo head of tigers Giles Clark, along with senior tiger handler Geoff Neubecker, carry out a routine health check on Bashii, our four-and-a-half year old male Sumatran tiger.
"We do medical checks on a regular basis with all of our tigers; it's very important for their health," Geoff said. "By giving them a treat such as milk we are able to do some relatively simple checks, such as taking bloods, to ensure they are fit and healthy."
Taking blood from a tiger requires skill and more than a little courage, however Geoff says the keepers' close relationship with the tigers comes in handy.
"Having a very strong relationship is important, as it allows us to be able to take a blood sample on a regular basis," Geoff said. "It also means the tigers are accustomed to the process, which will help us out when we need to take blood down the track, especially as the tigers get older."
Our ten tigers at Australia Zoo act as ambassadors for their wild cousins, helping to educate visitors about the species' dire situation.
"Tigers are listed as critically endangered, all sub-species in fact," Geoff said. "It is estimated that only 300 - 500 individual Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, and this is largely due to habitat destruction and illegal poaching."
Australia Zoo currently supports the Tiger Protection and Conservation units (TPCU) in Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra, with active anti-poaching patrols guarding the forest day and night.
- You can read more about our conservation programs
- Sponsor our Sumatran Tiger conservation project
- Book in for a Tiger Encounter
- Adopt one of our gorgeous tigers