World Tiger Day celebrations are taking place at Perth Zoo today with Jaya, the Sumatran Tiger helping shine a spotlight on his struggling wild counterparts.  

The day kickstarted with Jaya entering his habitat to discover his dedicated keepers and Zoo volunteers had created some special enrichment filled with his favourite snacks.  

Senior Keeper, Marty Boland, said: “Jaya is an important ambassador animal for his cousins in the wild, so it’s wonderful to give him some special treats to celebrate him today. 

“He plays a big role in the conservation of his species and helps to raise awareness for the plight of tigers in the wild.”

In the sanctuary of Perth Zoo, Jaya has not had to fight over dwindling resources or escape poachers looking to hunt and maim him. 

But for Sumatran Tigers in the wild, every day can be a battle to survive. 

Most people do not realise that tigers are on the brink of extinction with less than 400 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild.  But zoos are helping them claw back from extinction. 

There are now more Sumatran Tigers living in safe habitat in welfare accredited zoological organisations around the world than there are in their native Asian jungle. 

“It’s heartbreaking to think that unfortunately we are facing the very real possibility that the species could go extinct in our lifetime,” Marty said. 

“Wild populations are really struggling due to human impact, and they are facing daily threats of habitat destruction and illegal poaching.”

Medicinal and prosperity fallacies around this powerful feline have led to a high demand for products made from several tiger body parts. 

Tiger farms and illegal poaching for their skin, bones, teeth and nails has played a significant role in in their population decline, despite no scientific evidence confirming it’s efficiency.  

“Most people do not realise that the work Perth Zoo does for this species extends well beyond Perth Zoo’s gate, but into the jungles of Sumatra!” said Marty. 

Through partnerships with Frankfurt Zoological Society and TRAFFIC the international wildlife trade monitoring network ,  Perth Zoo is contributing to a better understanding of the species and the threats they face from organised crime in Sumatra. 

Since 2006, Zoo visitors have helped raise money to protect tigers in the wild through funding anti-poaching patrols in Sumatra. 

The Zoo also supports a crime analyst position for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network which strategically fights wildlife crime and gains intelligence on the sale of big cat body parts on the black market.