DENVER – A tiger from Russia is learning to live among his new comrades in the Mile High City, but he won’t be visible to the general public just yet.
Martin, a 3-year-old Amur tiger, arrived from the Moscow Zoo on July 1, totaling the current tiger population at the Denver Zoo to four.
At just 450 pounds, Martin will help support the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Special Survival Plan with valuable genetics, as he is not related to any tigers in North America, per a Denver Zoo spokesperson.
Zookeepers hope Martin will breed with 6-year-old Nikita to ensure the zoo has a health population and genetic diversity of animals.
Martin will share space at the new tiger exhibit, The Edge, in separate yards with 7-year-old brothers Thimbu and Nikolai.
There are only about 400 Amur tigers still living in the wild and zoo staff say bringing Martin to Denver is important to protecting the species.
“Amur tigers are an endangered species that are facing extinction unless we do something,” said Vice President for Animal Care Brian Aucone. "Martin will help ensure we have genetically viable populations of tigers for the millions of current and future guests who visit zoos to gain an appreciation and respect for the species.”
The biggest threats to these tigers comes from poaching, both for their fur and their other body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.