About the Exhibit
Originally built in 1989 as a black bear exhibit and then home to Bengal tigers until 2015, the Zoo’s tiger exhibit was in great need of renovation. Improvements to the exhibit enlarged the tigers’ habitat and night quarters, as well as added a new indoor viewing area for guests. The viewing building features reinforced glass panels for the closest possible view of these majestic cats, an interactive training window where guests can see keepers working with the tigers and interactive displays to engage and educate visitors about tiger conservation.
In addition, the outdoor bridge viewing area has been renovated to visually mirror the Asian architectural components featured on the new viewing building. Hand-painted and hand-carved woodwork cover this bridge, as well as the exterior of the viewing building.
Sumatran tigers are native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are the smallest surviving tiger subspecies, listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, with less than 400 of them left in the wild. Sumatran tigers can live between 10-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in human care. These tigers are distinguished by long fur on the sides of their faces, dark orange coats and heavy black stripes due to the dark jungle habitat they are native to.
Threats in the Wild
Populations of Sumatran tigers have fallen by 60% in the last 35 years due to poaching and habitat loss. Much of the poaching is because some people believe they can capture a tiger’s power by stripping its skin or consuming its bones. This creates a market for illegal tiger parts trading. Tigers have lost more than 90% of their range over the past 100 years. If the destruction continues, all tigers could become extinct.
Our Conservation Involvement
Nashville Zoo is committed to helping all tigers thrive, not just those in our care. The Zoo supports initiatives around the world to help tigers in their forest homes. Nashville Zoo has made a long-term commitment to support The Tiger Conservation Campaign (TCC) which works to protect and grow tiger populations in their habitats. Working with the Wildlife Conservation Society, TCC devotes its resources to reducing habitat loss, poaching and human/tiger conflicts. The Zoo and TCC’s joint goal is to prevent the killing or unnecessary removal of tigers from their natural habitat by local communities.
Nashville Zoo also participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan® to ensure the genetic biodiversity in the species’ captive populations.