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ZOO NEWS: Warmer temps brought more than sunshine

By the end of the week, it will be December and the weather still doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. I am definitely not complaining. The warmer days are extending time to accomplish outdoor projects that we thought we wouldn’t get to once that winter storm hit in October. Like I’ve always heard, you need to make hay while the sun shines so the zoo plans to take full advantage of these milder temperatures while they last.

Unfortunately, it is not going to be warm enough for those warm-natured animals to venture outside. The warm temperatures will keep the ground from freezing. A blanket of snow wouldn’t hurt. We could use the moisture and provide some insulation from the temperatures once Mother Nature decides to recognize winter.

The weather has allowed the zoo to continue to safely transfer animals in and out. This past week, the female tiger cub, Viktoria, made the trek to her new home in Salina, Kansas. Although she took a little time to exit her transfer crate, staff at the Rolling Hills Zoo have confirmed that she was settling in well.

Last Wednesday, the zoo received a new male Amur tiger. Six-year-old Finn, arrived mid-morning and took little time to decide that he’d rather be in his new home than the crate. He was unloaded into the dayroom at the east end of the building and quickly made himself at home. Reports from the zookeepers is that he has been very calm and is very well-mannered.

Finn seems to be a little larger than Viktor and overall is a good-looking cat. He will spend the next month in quarantine but will be able to see the others when he is on exhibit. Like Viktor before him, Finn will not have access to Zoya until it is time for her to be bred and once breeding is completed, will once again be separated. There are several reasons for managing tigers this way, but the most prevalent is that tigers are naturally solitary animals. Males and females alike prefer their own territory and are not likely to share with others so managing them separately seems to work best for this species.

As for Dimitri and Luka, the two male cubs, they remain at the zoo for now. They should be headed out in the next few weeks, but the zoo they are heading to is finishing up some renovations to their habitat that they wanted to be completed before the boys arrive. This means there is still time to get out and see them before they go and since the design of the Amur tiger enclosure includes three separate yards, guests will get to see tigers in all three environments until the boys depart.

We are thankful that the weather appears to be holding and will keep our fingers crossed until they make it to their new home. While we will miss the cubs, the staff can look forward to another opportunity in the future to add more animals to the tiger population.

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