Hamilton Zoo tigers Kirana and Scout working hard to conserve species

calendar iconPosted 22 October 2023

The following article was published in the Waikato Herald on October 22 2023. Article by Danielle Zollickhofer.

Hamilton Zoo’s perfect match, Sumatran tigers Kirana, 9, and Scout,7, have been working hard to conserve their species, but not as hard as the zoo hoped.

Scout moved to the Waikato in July, as part of a breeding programme, and the zoo anticipated hearing the pitter-patter of tiny paws this year, but although the tiger pair mated, keepers were unsure if Kirana was already pregnant.

“We introduced them to each other about three-and-a-half weeks ago, because Kirana was in season. We recorded 15 matings in a day, but that’s actually not that many. Ideally, you want around 30,” Hamilton Zoo exotics curator Mark Turner says.

“So, it’s hard to know if she is pregnant yet. We need to wait and see if she is coming back into season, or oestrus as we say. If she doesn’t, then there is a possibility that she has conceived, but we won’t know for sure until she is further along.”


Female tigers are coming into oestrus every four to five weeks.

Initially, Turner said the zoo didn’t want to give a tiger update. “But people would have seen them mating because they were on display at the time.”


He said tigers were solitary animals which is why Scout and Kirana were not living in the same enclosure and were only put together for mating.

“We don’t [even] leave them overnight just in case something happens. They are monitored the whole time.”


Hamilton Zoo has two enclosures and three tigers, so they rotated them around.

“[Scout and Kirana] live next to each other [at the moment]. They are both very interested in each other, there is lots of chuffing and head rubbing through the mesh,” Turner said.


When the zoo team put Kirana and Scout together for the first time, they didn’t waste much time.

“She presented to him straight away. He was very respectful towards her. We had them together on two days. By the third day, he ... was still nice to her, but not as interested anymore, so we separated them again.”

Turner said the team was now keeping a close eye on Kirana. Regardless of whether she is already pregnant or not, the pitter-patter of tiny paws is unlikely to be heard until the new year.

Sumatran tigers are classed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which publishes the Red List of Threatened Species.

There were fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild, so zoos played a crucial part in the conservation efforts of the species.


Scout was born at Australia Zoo and came to the Waikato from Christchurch’s Orana Wildlife Park. He was one of three new Hamilton Zoo residents alongside Siamang gibbon female Peggy and Red Panda male Sang.

Sang is Hamilton Zoo’s second red panda and shared an enclosure with female Jamuna, while Peggy has joined her father Itam who was lonely after Iuri, his partner of over 30 years, passed away in 2018.

Turner said all new residents had settled in well.

“Sang and Jamuna are getting along nicely. She is the boss though and quite pushy with him, so he knows his place. They can be seen side by side sometimes, but usually with a gap between them.

“Peggy and Itam are also getting along well. They spend a lot of time together and really enjoy being with each other.”