By Kelsey Burr, Naples Zoo Digital Marketing Manager
A new resident recently moved into Naples Zoo. Guests can now see Eko (pronounced Echo), a Malayan tiger who came to us from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
Malayan tigers are critically endangered, with less than 200 mature individuals in the wild according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tigers are native to the forests and mangrove swamps in Malaysia and face threats such as habitat loss, poaching for their bones and skin, depletion of their prey, and tiger-human conflict.
Naples Zoo has funded saving wild tigers for over two decades. Today, Naples Zoo and other accredited zoos join forces through the Tiger Conservation Campaign to support Wildlife Conservation Society’s on-the-ground efforts to address the threats to this majestic, iconic cat. We work with the organization to both educate Asian consumers on the false medical claims promised from tiger parts, and fund field teams to combat poaching and remove snares.
“Naples Zoo has provided critical support to stop the poaching that threatens these magnificent wild cats. Efforts like these, along with the work zoos do to raise awareness and engage people in conservation action, are helping secure a better future for wild tigers,” Dr. Tara Harris, Coordinator of AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan® and Tiger Conservation Campaign, said.
We also help with tiger conservation closer to home. We participate in the Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to maintain a genetically diverse population in zoos. While we will not be the home to cubs, as we don’t have the appropriate space, we fill the SSP’s need of caring for young adult cats. If the SSP selects Eko for a breeding recommendation, we will take him to another accredited zoo, as we’ve done with tigers in the past. We are honored to play this role.
Eko is a great ambassador for his species. When guests see him, we hope they fall in love and want to learn how they can do their part to save his cousins in the wild. One way we can all help is by choosing products made with sustainable palm oil. Palm oil is the most widely produced edible vegetable oil the world. It’s found in food like cookies, potato chips, and bread as well as shampoo, lotion, laundry soup and more. Unfortunately, some companies clear cut forests to produce palm oil – leading to the deaths of tigers and orangutans. Thankfully, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo created an easy app to help shoppers identify products with sustainably grown palm oil. Download the app at napleszoo.org/palmoil.
Tiger Fun Facts
- A tiger’s stripes are like our fingerprints – no two patterns are the same.
- Tigers can run in short bursts up to 40 mph.
- Tigers are great swimmers (if you’re lucky, you may catch Eko enjoying time in his pool!).
- A tiger’s night vision is six times better than ours.
- Tigers are solitary animals that enjoy living alone, like most cats, and will mark an area as their own by spraying strong smelling scents, scratching trees, and leaving piles of scat.
- Tigers are the largest of all the cat species.