New Sumatran tiger for Dreamworld

Dreamworld's Sumatran tiger Soraya will be joined by a male from Germany in the hopes of a successful breeding programme for the extremely endangered species.

Soraya, Dreamworld's existing female Sumatran tiger was imported from Tier Park Zoo in Germany in 2003 as part of the Australian Species Management Program.

It is hoped that by late 2006 the breeding programme is successful in bringing Sumatran tiger cubs to Dreamworld, adding hope for the dwindling tiger species.

Dreamworld’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Bradley said the park hoped to hear the pitter-patter of tiny paws in late 2006.

"If all goes to plan, we aim to breed Soraya and Raja in about a years time,” Mr Bradley said.

"Their offspring will then be raised by Tiger Island staff and remain at Tiger Island until they are required by other zoos for breeding.

"Sadly, these tigers can not be released back into the wild due to the high rate of habitat destruction and poaching. Our aim is simply to ensure the appropriate genetic management of the remaining captive population of the species in the hope that one day we may be able to re-populate areas where Sumatran tigers have been wiped out."

With only about 400 in the wild and a further 235 in zoos around the world, Sumatran tigers are listed as one of the most critically endangered species in the world. The introduction of Raja will bring Sumatran numbers in Australasia up to 20.

Unlike the Bengal tigers that Dreamworld's Tiger Island is famous for, the Sumatran tigers are not on display to the public. Significant differences between the two species prevent them from being kept together.

Because these two Sumatran tigers have had very limited human contact, they cannot be handled by Tiger Island staff.

Tiger Island Manager Patrick Martin-Vegue will travel to Germany to collect Raja this Friday.

Sumatran tigers are smaller and darker than Bengal tigers. Raja currently weighs 85 kilograms. When fully grown at three years of age, he’ll tip the scales at about 130 kilograms.

In comparison, male Bengal tigers can grow up to 230 kilograms. Dreamworld’s largest Bengal tiger is Sultan who weighs around 200 kilos.

Tiger Island is an interactive sanctuary where Bengal tigers play wrestle and swim with their handlers every day.

In addition to supporting the Sumatran Tiger Program, Dreamworld makes a significant contribution to tiger conservation on a global scale through the park’s Tiger Fund.