This tribute was written by Perth Zoo keeper Karen Rotherham.
I was lucky enough to meet Dumai, even before he came to Perth Zoo.
I was attending the first International Zookeeping Congress in the Netherlands in late 2003, and I was able to travel to Rheine NaturZoo in Western Germany to meet him.
He was a fluffy little 6-month-old. The keepers offered to take myself, and colleague, Rob on a walk with Dumai around the zoo. Dumai was a cub that had needed to be hand raised and he had no siblings, so grew up with his German Zoo Keepers and their dog.
He may have been getting a bit big for harness walks when we visited, as he showed a lot of interest in the zebras and other animals on the way round.
When he arrived in Perth in January 2004, he had come from a German winter to a very hot Perth summer. He had a super fluffy coat and was feeling the heat. He was soon introduced to a blue shell pool and took to it with gusto. When he grew bigger he decided that destroying the tubs was more fun. By this time summer was almost over and he did not need the water so much. As he grew older, in very hot weather he enjoyed playing with the hose. Biting at the water and relishing a full body spray from the hose – through the fence of course. Despite initially being hand reared, we didn’t work in with him, instead respecting him for the powerful tiger he would become whilst giving him the opportunity to grow and display all his tiger behaviours – although he’d forever have his quirks due to his initial upbringing.
His closest neighbour at the start was one of our sun bears, and although he was a bit fearful at first, he soon enjoyed a bit of pouncing and chasing through the dividing fence. Although the bear was too smart to be surprised very often, Dumai would give it a go.
He grew into a handsome young animal and even became a calendar star, making it into one of the Zoo’s yearly calendars.
We did try for a few years to breed with Dumai and our girl Setia. Unfortunately, it never really worked out. Dumai being a single hand raised cub, had never learnt how to speak ‘tiger’, and Setia was not a very accommodating lady tiger.
But he loved people and was a favourite of all the staff, well my favourite anyway.
He continued to mature and became a very charismatic adult. Who I am sure was much admired by our visitors, and was a great ambassador for Sumatran Tigers.
We loved him and he will forever be in our hearts.