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Global Tiger Day

Zoo News - Posted 29 July 2016

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July 29 every year is Global Tiger Day, a day to celebrate and raise awareness for tiger conservation.

There are five Sumatran tigers at Hamilton Zoo. Males Oz and Kembali, and females Mencari, (pronounced ‘Menjari’) Sali and Kirana.

Shouldn’t they be in the wild?

Unfortunately, the wild isn’t safe anymore. The natural Sumatran jungle is being cut down and replaced with oil palms to grow palm oil to put in our food. With their natural habitat being taken away from them, tigers are being forced into smaller and smaller areas, they have no food, they get into trouble and they are killed.

We agree that they should be in their natural home in the wild, but humans have taken their home away from them. That’s why you will find them safe in zoos and sanctuaries, so we can tell their story.

The story of Oz and Sali


Oz, the then 9 year old Sumatran tiger, was brought to Hamilton from Auckland Zoo to meet six year old Sali as part of an international breeding programme. The couple spent months having a ‘long distance between the two enclosures before meeting, and from that first meeting, two  cubs were born on  November 16, 2014. 


A competition was held to name the cubs, the only rule was that the names had to reflect their Sumatran heritage. Over 800 suggestions were whittled down to Kembali (‘return’ or ‘come back’) for the boy and Kirana (beautiful ray of light) for the girl.


Fast forward to today… the cubs are now 20 months old and have grown fast!

At birth Kembali weighed in at 2.15kg while sister Kirana was slightly smaller at 2.04kg. Times have changed and today both cubs eclipse mum Sali who is just 84kg. Kembali is a whopping 110kg and Kirana is 90kg. They’ve got a bit of catching up to do to for dad though, Oz is 150kg.

The cubs have also developed their individual personalities. Kembali has been practising his best roar and he’s big and brave in his enclosure. But if something scares him he is quick to find his mum. Kirana is a beautiful girl and smart like dad but very relaxed with her mum’s sweet personality. She is curious about her surroundings and loves to watch people come and go.

When you visit, you’ll find Kembali, Kirana and Sali in the main tiger enclosure while Oz shares the neighbouring enclosure with Mencari.

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 Kembali and Kirana - Photo Credit: David Rowe Photography

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 Kembali, Kirana and Sali - Photo Credit: David Rowe Photography

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 Oz - Photo Credit: David Rowe Photography

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 Mencari - Photo Credit: David Rowe Photography

Their lives are in our hands…

The Hamilton Zoo Conservation Fund supports many organisations in NZ and overseas. One of those is 21st Century Tiger, an organisation dedicated to making a long-term difference to the future of wild tigers.

Since 2010 the Hamilton Zoo Conservation Fund has raised $13,500 for 21st Century Tiger and 100% of donations goes directly to conservation activities and is used to fund core tiger projects that include intelligence-led wildlife crime response teams in Sumatra who work tirelessly to protect tiger habitat.

We also participate in an Australasia-wide conservation breeding programme for the Sumatran tiger and tell their story to more than 700 million visitors passing through zoos and aquariums each year.

How you can help…

The Hamilton Zoo Conservation Fund is supported by donations, special events and 10% of every animal encounter. So every time you go on a Face2Face or Eye2Eye encounter you’re helping animals in the wild… on their behalf we say thanks!

As consumers, the power is in our hands. Palm oil is now an ingredient in at least one out of every 10 supermarket products, including food, cosmetics, cleaning and bath products.

Make the choice to help slow the uncontrolled expansion of palm oil plantations, causing the destruction of vital rainforests and loss of animal species. By reducing our palm oil consumption, we can help reduce demand for this oil.

Currently there is no legal requirement for palm oil or its derivatives to be labelled on product packaging in New Zealand, making it a challenge to shop palm oil-free, we’re about to try and change that. Click here to read more.

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