Zoo Atlanta welcomes a new boss.
Emerson is a 10-year-old male Sumatran tiger recently arrived from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. Professionals working with the Tiger Species Survival Plan expect him to breed with Chelsea, the Zoo's 13-year-old female Sumatran tiger.
It’s not clear whether anyone has told Chelsea about this plan.
Born at the Sacramento Zoo in 2006, Emerson has a connection to Zoo Atlanta: his mother was Bahagia, who was born at Zoo Atlanta in 2000 and later moved to Sacramento.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Emerson to the Zoo Atlanta family and are very hopeful that he and Chelsea will make a great connection,” said Hayley Murphy, vice president of animal divisions. “Without the work of conservation organizations like Zoo Atlanta and its partners, Sumatran tigers are animals that may someday be found only in zoos.”
Sumatran tigers are among the most endangered mammal species at Zoo Atlanta. They are listed as critically endangered, and conservators estimate there are fewer than 400 in the wild. They live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Here is video of Chelsea with her 7-week-old tiger cubs Sonji and Sanjiv:
Chelsea and The species faces pressures from habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, particularly through deforestation for palm oil plantations, and black-market poaching for skins and bones, which are believed by some cultures to have medicinal properties.
Zoo Atlanta lost one of its tigers last December, when Kavi, a 15-year-old male Sumatran tiger was euthanized after his health declined precipitously. At 15 Kavi was considered a geriatric tiger, and had been under treatment for arthritis and other ills.
According to Zoo Atlanta, the 341-pound Emerson “has had sightings of Chelsea in the Zoo’s behind-the-scenes tiger complex but will first have an opportunity to become accustomed to his outdoor habitat before meeting the female in coming weeks. Sumatran tigers are solitary in the wild, with males and females spending time together only during breeding.”
Both Emerson and Chelsea have had previous offspring with other mates. Chelsea gave birth to two cubs, Sonji and Sanjiv, in 2011. Kavi was the father of those two cubs. Sonji and Sanjiv now live at other zoos.
Emerson is named after the poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. His brother is named Kipling (after Rudyard). His sister Taymor honors theater great Julie Taymor, who directed the stage version of “The Lion King.”
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Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution