The Smithsonian’s National Zoo said in a release there is a new tiger at the facility who came from the Indianapolis Zoo two months ago.
The Zoo’s new resident is a five-year-old Amur tiger, named Metis. He was sent to DC because of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The Zoo has already been home to another Amur tiger, a nine-year-old female named Nikita, but keepers there have not had any Amur tiger cubs since 1948.
Now, they are hopeful and “cautiously optimistic” that they might have the first cubs of the genetically valuable species in 73 years through the breeding program.
❤️🐯 The new guy in town is calm, curious and cautious. In other words, he’s one cool cat. Meet Metis, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s new 5-year-old Amur tiger! ✏️STORY: https://t.co/PEtegYeVlc.
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) July 5, 2021
Metis was quite cautious when he first arrived, but his curiosity took over after he got used to his new habitat, the release said. He actually started to explore his new surroundings faster than many other tigers that lived at the Zoo. He is now quite calm and relaxed. Nikita, on the other hand, is “more elusive and a little sassy.”
“If all goes well and they show interest in one-another, keepers will wait until she goes into estrus to introduce them in the same space. Adult female tigers go into estrus roughly once a month (sometimes, they skip a month or two), and that is when they are receptive to sharing a space and breeding,” according to the Zoo.
Amur tigers living in zoos usually breed in the winter months. Nikita’s gestation is expected to last around 103 days, or just over 3 months if she conceives.
Visitors are able to view Metis and Nikita, as well as Damai and the Zoo’s African lions across all three habitats. Metis may be out in the early-to-mid-morning or later in the afternoon.
The National Zoo reopened its doors to the public on May 21, but keep in mind that all visitors, including children, are required to reserve free entry passes ahead of their visit. (Click here to reserve a free entry pass.)