Chester is a city that’s rich in history and culture and therefore full of vibrant tourist attractions.But among these, there are few more popular than its famous zoo.September saw a long-awaited change take place at the zoo, with its family of five Sumatran tigers being moved to a new, improved and much larger enclosure on the new Islands section of the zoo, which exhibits animals from the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
The new enclosure is a result of four years of work, during which time designers and zookeepers worked in close co-operation to ensure that the end result was as perfect as it could possibly be.As you might imagine, designing and building a tiger enclosure is not a job that should be rushed.The consequences of an escape could be catastrophic, for one thing; but equally important is ensuring that the animals have an interesting, spacious, fulfilling place to spend their time.
At two-thousand square metres, the new enclosure is substantially larger than the old one. Not only that, but it includes a high space for the tigers to sit on – which they find reassuring as it allows them to see over a larger distance.Visitors will be able to view the tigers close up through windows in a tunnel that runs through the enclosure and from behind the fences that surround it.
Sumatran tigers are extremely capable athletes.With a proper run up, they can jump seven metres, and climb more than five.For this reason, the enclosure has had to be designed so that the walls are precipitously steep and the fences insurmountable.If you want the best close-up view of the tigers, you’ll find it by taking a walk through the viewing tunnel.
What is the Sumatran tiger?
The Sumatran tiger is classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.It’s native to Sumatra, an island in Indonesia and is the only surviving species of tiger from that area; the Bali and Javan tiger were hunted to extinction in the last century and it will take considerable effort on the part of conservation organisations and civilisation at large to prevent the Sumatran tiger from sharing the same fate.
The Sumatran tiger is one of the smallest sorts of tiger. Males typically weigh just over 100kg, while females are a little lighter.To give a point of reference, males of the more numerous Bengal tiger can weigh more than 200kg!
This difference in size and weight is largely thanks to the environments in which these two animals evolved.Sumatra was isolated from the mainland of Asia, several thousand years ago, when sea levels rose as the Pleistocene epoch gave way to the Holocene.The tiger species on the mainland and on the islands thereby became isolated from one another.This is confirmed both by the geography of the area and by genetic examinations of modern tigers.
When can I see these cats?
At the time of writing, the tigers are not on show to the public, as they have not yet fully settled into their new home.They need to be given time to explore their surroundings and to become comfortable in the enclosure.As anyone who’s ever resettled a cat will tell you, it’s not always easy to predict how long this will take.This is perhaps even truer of big, wild animals, for whom captivity is unnatural.
New, disorientating stimulus might hinder this acclimatisation process and so zookeepers think it best to allow the family time to adapt without having to contend with humans watching them.
Accommodation in Chester
Locals have no excuse not to spend a day at the Zoo looking at these creatures in their new environment.But there are a wealth of hotels in Chester and in the surrounding countryside which can accommodate those travelling from further afield.These include Carden Park, which also boast some of the best Cheshire conference venues, golf courses and spas – the perfect base camp if you’re planning a trip to one of the best zoos the country has to offer.
The Sumatran tiger is a rare and beautiful animal and so it’s pleasing to see that these examples are being given a better place to live.By the time you read this, it’s entirely likely that the tigers will be on display again in their new improved setting.Make sure that you find time to head down to the zoo and see these magnificent creatures in their new, improved home.