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Sumatran tiger

Panthera tigris sumatrae

Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the sub-species, and a Critically Endangered big cat which numbers as few as 300-400 in the wild.

They are powerful solitary hunters, whose stripes help them to hide in long grass or the shadows of the forest. The sharp retractile claws, powerful jaws and sharp teeth are used to capture kill and eat the prey which is located using the tigers’ hearing, acute eyesight and sense of smell. They hunt by stealth, creeping close enough to the prey, normally a deer or wild pig, before attacking their victim with a fatal pounce.

A hungry Sumatran tiger will eat up to 18kg of meat in one sitting.

Where they live: restricted to the Indonesian island of Sumatra

Habitat: tropical rainforests

Size: Head to tail length 2.4m in males and 2.2 m in females.  

It is the smallest tiger sub-species.

Weight: average weight 126 kg males and 90 kg females.

Lifespan12-17 years in the wild. Up to 20 years on the zoo.

Conservation status: Critically Endangered. It is estimated there are just 300-400 left in the wild

Breeding Programme status: EEP

Threats: Hunting for trophies, hunting for skins, trade in bones and other body parts for traditional medicines, competition for food and space with a growing human population and habitat degradation and destruction.


Unlike most cats tigers like water and are good swimmers and often lie in water to cool down

Tigers can see six times better than people at night 

No two tigers have the same pattern of stripes


White flashes at the backs of ears serve as communication. They help cubs follow their mother and also display aggression – threatened tigers twist their ears so the white patches face forward.


With just 300-400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild this magnificent sub-species cannot survive without captive breeding programmes.

Conservation programmes are vital to their survival; eight cubs produced at DZG between 2000-2005  went on to boost conservation breeding programmes across the world.


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