Tiger habitat to open up at West Midlands Safari Park

Visitors to West Midlands Safari Park will be able to see the Sumatran tigers on foot a whisker's away for the first time in its almost 50 year history.

 The new habitat is home to Sumatran tigers Dourga and Nakal (Dourga pictured).
The new habitat is home to Sumatran tigers Dourga and Nakal (Dourga pictured).

The Bewdley-based attraction is opening its brand-new tiger habitat – Tiger Tropics – this weekend offering an "amazing and unforgettable" experience.

It has been built for eight-year-old male Nakal and 10-year-old female Dourga, who only arrived at the park on August 6 but has managed to settle in.

Chris Hodgkins, head keeper of carnivores, said: "A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure a safe and happy move for our tigers to their new home. Following Dourga’s arrival our first steps were to introduce her to her new companion, Nakal.

"This involved allowing them to meet through mesh and take turns going into each other’s areas, to sniff each other’s scents. This went better than we could have hoped for, and they have been seen ‘chuffing’ at each other and lying close together.

"When we opened the doors to their new outdoor habitat, both went straight out, in opposite directions, eager to explore and scent-marking as they went. Dourga especially showed signs of loving her new home and started to become very playful, hiding behind the foliage and stalking an unaware Nakal!

"The new environment is not only fantastic for our tigers but will give all our guests an amazing and unforgettable experience in an immersive environment. We can’t wait to open it on Saturday and see their reactions as they come nose-to-nose with our beautiful cats."

Tiger Tropics will be accessible from the park's adventure theme park area and guests can view the tigers from two points through glass. The new habitat has been designed to be enriching and encourage as many natural behaviours as possible. It includes scratching posts, exploration areas, vantage points, feeding points, two pools, heat pads and the planting in the habitat is a mix of tropical and native species, including bamboo.

And alongside the opening of Tiger Tropics on Saturday, four luxury Tiger Lodges will open a day before. Two of the Tiger Lodges are single-storey and detached and unique to these are private terraces with sunken hot tubs – so people can relax in luxury with views into the tiger habitat.

The remaining two lodges are semi-detached and span two storeys, offering further incredible views from the first floor, spanning the whole environment.

Tigers in the wild face a very uncertain future, due to threats such habitat loss, conflict with humans and poaching for the illegal trade in tiger body parts.

It is estimated that there are fewer than 4,000 tigers left in the wild and only 400 of those are Sumatran tigers, gaining them their ‘critically endangered’ status from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The park hopes that the new tiger development shows the commitment it has to building a lasting legacy for these animals. Tigers can still be seen on the park’s four-mile safari, including female Sumatran tiger, Hujan and white tigers Ben and Buster.

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