BOSSES at Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park are hoping their latest arrival really will catch the eye of the tiger.
Vladimir, the Siberian Amur tiger, has finally been joined by the female who conservationists hope will become the love of his life.
They have been matched at the attraction by the studbook keeper for Amur Tiger European Breeding Programme, and the female Sayan, has now arrived from Howletts Wild Animal Park, in Kent.
They are together for the first time today in the Branton venue’s newly completed Land of the Tiger enclosure, a huge tiger reserve for the feline couple.
Vladimir arrived from the Highland Wildlife Park last month and has now been joined by Sayan, born in Kent, who arrived on Tuesday.
But wildlife park owner Cheryl Williams said it would be several months before the couple get together, and they are currently in separate areas of the enclosure.
She said: “We are talking about a long engagement. It is going to be a long job to get them together. They are harder to introduce than lions, they are not as gregarious and it will be a long, slow process.
“If we do it too soon there could be tiger wars, so we’re looking at three to six months.
“As long as we don’t rush things it should be fine. They are both young, with Vladimir, aged two, and Sayan, aged three, so they are not stuck in their ways. You could say Vladimir is a bit of a toy boy.
“But we are really excited because this is the first step to us being actively involved in the breeding programme to help save the Amur tiger.
“That is a big thing to be involved in. We’re a fairly new park and this is a prestigious thing to be doing.”
She added Sayan had settled well and seemed quite relaxed after the stress of moving from her previous home in Kent, where she was born.
Vladimir and Sayan are planned to be the first of two tiger couples in the park, with plans to bring in two more tigers for possible breeding next year.
Sayan has a distinctive cross-eye which she acquired following a spat with her sibling as a cub.
The Amur Tiger is the largest big cat in the world. Threatened by habitat loss and poachers, this tiger is critically endangered with fewer than 400 animals thought still to survive in the wild.
Tigers in the breeding programme are selected for their suitability and genetic diversity for the breeding programme. Moves and breeding recommendations are made by the stud book keeper who co-ordinates the whole programme.
Two pools and a waterfall for the water-loving tigers features in the tigers’ new home, created at the park alongside a natural British Nature wetlands reserve.
Viewing for visitors will be along a 150-metre walkway.