Potter Park Bids Farewell to Kira and Savelii

 Two of the three females moved to South Dakota


Kira and Savelii, two of the three Amur tigers born at Potter Park Zoo in 2011, moved to the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota today. Their sister Ameliya, father Sivaki and mother Nika remain in Lansing.

“It has been a privilege to work with these rare animals and get to know their distinct personalities and behavior,” said Dr. Tara Harrison, Director of Animal Health at Potter Park Zoo. “We are proud to be playing an active role in the preservation of Amur tigers.”

Keepers Jan Brigham, Annie Marcum, and Kelly Cowley and many on zoo staff have been instrumental in raising the three young tigers. They were hand reared due to health issues that developed shortly after they were born. They have also received extensive training from keepers Jake Brodie and Kelly Cowley to help them learn the routine at the zoo and other husbandry related behaviors.

The 2011 cubs received international attention via the Potter Park Zoo website’s tiger cam and the world was able to watch them grow up. They now each weigh more than 200 lbs. and are nearing the age where tigers are usually separated. Amur tigers in the wild are solitary animals and do not remain in groups during their adult lives.

“Kira and Savelii were selected to leave together because they have the strongest relationship of the three tigers and have the highest likelihood of being able to stay together,” said Keeper Jan Brigham. “But even they may eventually choose to be separated.”

Amur tigers are native to the Amur-Ussuri region of Siberia along the coast of Russia. They are critically endangered due to poaching and habitat destruction with only an estimated 400-500 remaining in the wild.

Potter Park Zoo has worked to assist in the survival of this species by participating in the Amur Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Amur Tiger SSP develops annual breeding and transfer plans and the move of the two young females to Bramble Park Zoo was one of those recommendations.