IT MIGHT just look like a traditional Halloween game, but introducing items such as ropes, poles, or in this case a carved pumpkin, into the Sumatran Tiger Reserve at West Midland Safari Park is an essential and important part of the Park’s animal enrichment programme.
Whilst not quite sure whether she was facing friend or foe in the tiger pool at first, it wasn’t long before eight-year-old Hujan coaxed the bobbing pumpkin closer to dry land and made a grab for it. Once she had the terrified looking article gripped tightly in her jaws, she proudly carried it off to a quiet part of the reserve to find out exactly what was what.
‘Hujan’ – meaning rain in one of the dialects spoken in her native Indonesia – has never been timid of water and was even named after the torrential storms that were raging on the day of her birth.
West Midland Safari Park have two Sumatran Tigers and the long-term plan is for the pair to breed to help secure the future of this seriously rare species of which it is thought, there are no more than 350 left in the wild today. This presents a real possibility of them facing extinction by the end of the decade.
Director of Wildlife, Bob Lawrence, said, ” The carnivore keepers at West Midland Safari Park are always looking at innovative ways to enrich the lives of their big cats by stimulating natural behaviours without risking any of their nine lives. Eighty years ago, wild tigers still had all their nine lives – today the Sumatran tiger is one of only five tiger species left. Whilst tigers are synonymous with water, don’t be fooled, they really do mean business.”
Hujan and her mate Emas can be seen throughout half term in the Sumatran Tiger Reserve, which is included in the standard admission charge of £17.99 for adults, £12.99 for children and includes a free return ticket. Theme Park rides are charged extra in all cases. Further information is available from the Park’s official website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114.
West Midland Safari Park is open daily until Friday, November 7.