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Tigers and Lions Arrive Safely!

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Three Bengal Tigers (1 male, 2 females) of which one of the female as well as the male are white and two African Lionesses (1 White) arrived safely in Trinidad on March 18th, 2014 at 6:00 pm. These animals were acquired from Bester Birds and Animals Zoo Park, Pretoria, South Africa, having been bred in captivity for the international Zoo community.

These big cats were accompanied by the owner of the facility, Mike Bester throughout their entire journey which left South Africa on Sunday afternoon (March 16th) via London to their final destination of Trinidad. Part of the journey included an overland trip from Heathrow where they landed from South Africa to Gatwick airport to make their connection to Trinidad.

During the stopovers, the animals were watered and fed to ensure that their needs were met. On arrival at Piarco, they were expeditiously processed and escorted by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to reach the Emperor Valley Zoo in the shortest possible time. The due care and diligence exercised throughout ensured that the animals were in excellent condition and were able to settle down well in their exhibits when transferred the same night.

Facts on the Tigers:

General: The home to Royal Bengal Tigers (Indian Tigers or Panthera tigris) is India Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma where these graceful animals live mostly in sanctuaries. The usual habitats for these animals are dense forest, mangrove swamps, savannahs, rocky countries and lush grassland. Although endangered, Bengal Tigers are the most numerous in population than any other Tiger subspecies.

The Bengal tiger has a magnificent appearance. The coat colour of this wildcat is reddish orange with narrow black, gray or brown stripes, generally in a vertical direction. The underside is creamy or white; a rare variant has a chalky white coat with darker stripes and icy blue eyes.

Age/Weight of Individuals Acquired:

  • 1 White Female Tiger – 21 months; approx. 150 kgs
  • 1 Ginger Female Tiger – 15 months; approx 100 kgs
  • 1 White Male tiger – 19 months; approx 150 kgs

Facts on the Lions:

General: The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia (where an endangered remnant population resides in Gir Forest National Park in India) while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times.

The white lion is not a distinct subspecies, but a special morph with a genetic condition, leucism, that causes paler colouration akin to that of the white tiger; the condition is similar to melanism, which causes black panthers. They are not albinos, having normal pigmentation in the eyes and skin.

Age/Weight of Individuals Acquired:

  • 1 White Female Lion – 6 months; approx. 35 kgs
  • 1 Normal Female Lion – 8 months; approx 35 kgs

President of the Zoological Society, Gupte Lutchmedial is thankful for the safe arrival of these big cats and stated that this is the first time ever that the Emperor Valley Zoo is getting white tigers and lion and also the first time they will be exhibited in the Caribbean region. Additionally, the Zoo is excited to be showcasing these majestic Bengal tigers although it previously had a pair and 1 offspring up until the middle 1980s. Since then however, the other species of tigers at the Zoo were the Siberian and Sumatran tigers.  So after more than three decades, Bengal tigers are back at the Zoo.

All of the animals are unrelated and will be able to produce progeny with good genes. These cubs can be made available through exchange to accredited facilities in the Caricom region and with our Central and South American neighbours. They are also contributory to the international Zoo community ex situ conservation of these endangered tigers and vulnerable lions.

These animals will be on exhibit from Wednesday 19th March 2014 from 2:00 pm to the public as the exhibit area is an approved quarantine enclosure.

Can you name the tigers and lions? Click to download the entry form.

Note: The competition is now closed.

Entries can be submitted via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or deposited in the specially marked box located at the Zoo's entrance.