Siberian Tiger, in From the Cold

Dudley Zoo

My recent visit to Dudley Zoo, made with the intention of photographing their Snow Leopard’s turned up an unexpected bonus, Dudley Zoo had recently acquired two young Tigers, a Sumatran male and a Siberian, also known as Amur Tiger which is a young female. The Snow Leopards were beautiful but the wire mesh of their cage; foiled my attempts to photograph them but the Tiger enclosure provided marvelouse views and the tigers were playful and completely captivating.

When I completed a painting of the Amur Tiger I sent the image to Dudley Zoo and complimented them on their Zoo. I was pleased to get an immediate response from their Head of Media and Communications, asking if they could use the painting on their web site. Well we all have an ego and it was nice to have mine stroked. More importantly I was invited to return with the promise of meeting the Head of the big cats and with a bit of luck he just might manage to assist me in getting a photo of the Snow Leopards.

When I was a young boy we used to visit Edinburgh Zoo and I distinctly remember being upset by the cramped and austere conditions the animals were kept. That was how all zoo’s kept their animals then. The huge change in the perception of what is acceptable to ensure wild animals are healthy in body as well as mind, has brought about a sea change in zoo’s the world over and now zoo’s go to great lengths to ensure the animals have enough space and mental stimulation to provide them with a good quality of life and crucially; contended enough to breed normally.

The massive erosion of environment has meant that the only way many of our endangered animals will survive is by the breeding programs that all zoo’s pursue. In the case of the Amur Tiger there are only about thirty individuals left in the wild. So we have much to be grateful for and it means our children and their children will be as thrilled as I was when I visited Dudley Zoo.