Doncaster wildlife park welcomes Siberian star attraction

Vladimir the tiger at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Vladimir the tiger at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park
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VLADIMIR the tiger is looking pretty comfortable in his smart new South Yorkshire home...

The Siberian tiger has finally arrived in England after months of planning, and is now settling into life at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster.

Michelle  Walker one of the Animal Keepers getting the house ready for Vladimir

Michelle Walker one of the Animal Keepers getting the house ready for Vladimir

These are the first pictures of the animal - one of the most endangered species in the world - since his arrival at the site in Branton.

Staff at the park carefully unloaded Vladimir, releasing him at night from the crate in which he had made the journey to Doncaster, and into his new accommodation.

He is now awaiting a female to share the tigers’ enclosure, from which bosses at the zoo hope eventually to breed baby big cats.

Park managing director Cheryl Williams said: “Vladimir is in the house, settling in at the moment. Once he is more settled we will let him out into the small reserve adjacent to the house, but he needs to be relaxed and confident with his keepers for that so we don’t really envisage that being before next week.”

Vladimir is a two-year-old tiger who arrived in Doncaster from the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, Scotland.

The female he will live with has to face a longer journey to Yorkshire - Elsa, an eight-year-old female, will travel from Sofia Zoo in Bulgaria where she has been housed since being seized by the Bulgarian government from a private collection.

Bosses at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park responded to a request for a home from Sofia Zoo, and directors travelled to Bulgaria to see Elsa earlier this year.

The big cat couple will be the first of two pairs of endangered Siberian tigers.

The animals - also known as Amur tigers - are the largest big cats in the world. Threatened by habitat loss and poachers, in the wild they are critically endangered with fewer than 400 thought to still survive.

Directors at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park have been working with the studbook keeper for a European Amur tiger breeding programme to identify four individuals that could come to Doncaster from other zoos and parks. The others are expected to arrive in the spring.

Tigers are selected for the breeding programme for their suitability and genetic diversity.