Tiger Returns to Connecticut to Celebrate 'Happy Zoo Year!'

Date: 
Fri, 12/16/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - December 16, 2011 - In an attempt to beat the holiday traffic, Viktor, an Amur (Siberian) tiger, has arrived at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. He has returned home for the holidays and the Zoo is inviting visitors to help welcome him back to Bridgeport and celebrate "Happy Zoo Year" with half price admission from December 26-30, 2011. Also new on exhibit are two Maned wolves, the Zoo's rare Chacoan peccary piglet, and a baby Pronghorn. Viktor was one of three cubs born in 2005 at Connecticut's only Zoo and was transferred to the Detroit Zoo in 2008. He will be ready to greet his East coast fans after Christmas.

"We are thrilled to have Viktor back home and just in time for the holidays," Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said. "The song says, "Baby, it's cold out there" but with the beautiful weather we're having and a mild winter forecast, there's no better time to come out and meet the newest additions to our Zoo family."

Amur tigers range from nine to 12 feet long and grow to be 400-500 pounds. These enormous animals have pale, yellow-orange fur that shades to a creamy white and pale blackish stripes with a distinctive pattern on the face as unique as a fingerprint. These big cats may be found in a variety of habitats including grasslands and evergreen forests and their diet consists mostly of deer, wild boar, elk, lynx, bear, fish, hares, and birds. Their long fur coat, about one to three inches long, protects them in temperatures to 50 degrees below zero. Booskin, the most recent male tiger at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, was moved to Racine Zoo in Wisconsin to make room for Viktor. The Zoo hopes Viktor will successfully mate with Naka, their female Amur tiger.

Also new to the Zoo this winter are two Maned wolves. The two female wolves are sisters, born last spring in North Carolina. TheManed wolves have access to a heated enclosure, as they are not fans of Connecticut's cold winters. Often mistaken for foxes, the Maned wolf ranges from four to four and a half feet in length, weighing in around 44-50 pounds. They like to eat rodents and other small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and will go for the occasional fruit and vegetables at times.

The transfer of the tiger and the wolves is coordinated through the Assocation of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan Program. Animals are regularly transferred between AZA accredited zoos in order to help manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations.

Baby Animal Updates:

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo announced the birth of a rare Chacoan peccary last month. Originally expected to remain off exhibit until the spring, the unnamed piglet has ventured out into the public. Visitors will be able to see her if the mild weather continues. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is the first accredited zoo in the northeast to welcome a Chacoan peccary piglet and was the first accredited zoo in the northeast to exhibit this endangered species.
 
A baby Pronghorn born at the Zoo in July of this year has recently made its debut in the New England Farmyard. Contrary to their name, Pronghorn, do not actually have true horns. They are the fastest land mammal in North America running at top speeds of 58 mph for short distances and can cruise steadily at 32 mph. They have a light brown coat with white undersides and may be found in grasslands, brush lands, deserts, and alpine plateaus. Pronghorn are browsers, meaning they feast on leaves, plants, or shrubs, but not grasses.

Last month the Zoo welcomed two new Canada lynx and two Common rheas. The Zoo also announced that its two Andean condors, perennial visitor favorites for their prominent location at the entrance to the Zoo, were transferred to Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. They are being trained in preparation for release into the wilds of Columbia, South America, which is expected to take place in six to nine months. These four-year-old birds are the only condors in the United States to be reintroduced to their natural habitat this year.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and is open daily from 9 am - 4 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $12.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members are also admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For information, call: (203) 394-6565. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is located at 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
 
Zoo's Holiday 2011 Schedule:
The Zoo will be open for half days on the day BEFORE Christmas and New Year's Eve. The last visitor will be admitted at Noon and the doors will close at 1:00 pm.

Holiday & Winter Carousel, Café, and Gift Shop Hours:
Monday and Tuesday - Café and Carousel closed
Wednesday thru Friday - Café and Carousel open at 10:00 am and close at 3:00 pm
Monday thru Friday - Gift Shop opens at 10:00 am and closes at 3:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday - Café, Carousel and Gift Shop open at 9:00 am and close at 4:00 pm