GALLERY: Rare Sumatran tiger is DROPPED off at new Dudley home

It looks like the opening scene from Jurassic Park, as a velociraptor is delivered to the ill-fated theme park while anxious gamekeepers watch on.

GALLERY: Rare Sumatran tiger is DROPPED off at new Dudley home

Tiger Joao starts to settle into his new home at the zoo

But this was a fearsome predator of a different kind, and the location wasn't a tropical island – it was Dudley Zoo.

The zoo has taken delivery of its newest resident, rare Sumatran tiger Joao.

After travelling hundreds of miles by land and sea, Joao made his grand entrance at the attraction by crane. The 20-month-old tiger, who had travelled from Krefeld Zoo, Germany, was then carefully carried into the enclosure which is on the upper level of the 40-acre site where he will be introduced to three-year-old female Daseep.

He brings with him hopes of a new generation of big cats as Joao is part of a major international conservation programme for the critically endangered species.

Zoo chief executive, Peter Suddock, said: “The big cat Tecton enclosure is a tricky one to negotiate and we used a crane to manoeuvre the tiger into the building. 

“Not only does this make the transfer easier, but it also eliminates the need to anaesthetise Joao and meant we could introduce him to the internal dens immediately and get him settled. It sounds a difficult move but it’s something we’ve done since the zoo opened in 1937 and although it looks complicated, it’s fairly straightforward and ensures Joao was in his new home and set to meet Daseep as soon as possible.”

Daseep is ranked as the world’s second most important female in the genetic pool for the rare sub-species which now numbers fewer than 140 in the wild. 

Staff are hoping to build on their successful breeding record for Sumatran tigers. Eight cubs were born at the Castle Hill site between 2000 and 2005. It alone increased the world population of this incredible sub-species by two per cent and went on to boost programmes across the world. 

Assistant curator, Richard Brown, said: “We are all delighted and relieved that Joao is here at last. He is a superb tiger and has already started communicating with the female through vocalisation. We are very hopeful he will settle in over the weekend and be out in the external enclosure to meet the public very soon.” 

Registrar and research co-ordinator, Dr David Beeston, said: “We hope these genetically important animals will soon breed and boost the numbers in the important European breeding population for this highly endangered species.” 

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