Bioparco di Rome’s New Sumatran Tiger Exhibit

September 4, 2015  

Massimiliano Di Giovanni from the Fondazione Bioparco di Roma has shared with us photos of their new Sumatran Tigers Exhibit that opened this summer.  After six months of work, the area dedicated to this critically endangered subspecies double its previous size and accurately reproduces the natural habitat of the Sumatran Tiger.  It is now home to Kasih (love), a male tiger born in 2014 in the Beauval Zoo in France.

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New educational signs explaining the ecology and ethology of the subspecies, the threats it faces, and the conservation programmes in place to save it, alternate with big windows installed to bring visitors as close as possible to this magnificent animal.



The tiger is one of the most endangered species in the world. Its range once covered most of the Asian continent, whereas today it survives in small, fragmented areas. The tiger lives in various types of habitat with sufficient vegetation cover, water availability and abundance of large prey.

The Bioparco hosts the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), which is one of the six subspecies of tigers that still survives today. Its range is limited to the tropical forests of the Island of Sumatra (Indonesia). There are about 400 individuals in the wild and it one of the most highly endangered subspecies.

Territorial and solitary, the male and female tigers meet only for mating when the female is sexually receptive. After a gestation period of about three months, two to three blind, helpless cubs are born. Around the age of eight weeks the cubs start to follow the mother while she hunts. Dispersal occurs when young are 18-28 months old.

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A crepuscular, nocturnal ambush hunter, it catches its prey by surprise, moving closer and then jumping at its throat or neck. It feeds mainly on medium-sized ungulates, but occasionally it also feeds on birds, fish, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, primates and livestock.

This animal’s canines are 7 cm long and are highly specialized to bite and latch onto its prey until it dies.

The tiger’s tongue is equipped with sharp, rear facing barbs (papillae) that help keeping its fur clean and strip the meat off prey’s bones.

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Tigers use their sense of sight, smell and hearing to communicate with each other. They make a wide range of sounds, each with its own meaning.

Roaring: a sign of dominance, when a tiger attacks its prey, fights with others of its own species, or when it feels threatened.
Snarling: a sign of alarm.
Meowing: cubs meow when playing or when they are excited.
Look for the tiger!
Its striped coat helps the tiger to remain camouflaged in the vegetation.
Retractable claws
The tiger has pro-tactile claws that can be up to 5 cm long and the elastic ligaments in their paws can extract them at need.

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Do you think they are good remedies? We don’t!

Even if illegal, traditional oriental medicine still widely uses tiger parts, which have proven to be the greatest threat to the tiger’s survival. Nearly each part of this animal’s body has a presumed therapeutic use, especially its bones that are used as a cure for arthritis and rheumatism and are used as an invigorating tonic.

Used against acne and laziness.
Used against epilepsy, malaria, convulsions, cataracts, irritability and fever in children.
Used against toothache and made into amulets.
Ground bones
Used again rheumatisms, weakness and paralysis.
Fur is burnt to keep millepedes away.
Used as lucky charms.
Used for strength, courage and cunning.
Penis and testicles
Used as aphrodisiacs.
Used to cure skin diseases and to fight off the devil.
Foot bones
Used to cure convulsions by tying them to children’s wrists.
Used as an energizer.
Used to cure boils, hemorrhoids and alcoholism.
Used against insomnia.
Used to cure vomit and hemorrhoids.
Used against anger and asthma.

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What is it that threatens tigers?

The tiger is one of the most threatened animal species in the world today due to habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal hunting and human-animal conflicts. Many institutions, like the Bioparco, have started projects to promote tiger conservation in the wild.

You too can contribute to save the tiger by only buying eco-sustainable products and by supporting the “21st Century Tiger” association.

Your donations will go towards projects that protect tigers and their habitats.