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More zoo babies? Male tiger introduced at Calgary Zoo

After the arrival of the pandas earlier this year, the Calgary Zoo is making a move that could raise the cuteness factor there even more.

Zoo patrons may now see Youri the male tiger at the tiger enclosure.

That’s right, we said he’s a male tiger. The other two Amur tigers (also known a Siberian tigers) at the zoo are both female.

Getting some cute tiger cubs is the end game for the zoo, according to spokeswoman Trish Exton-Parder.

“It’s a species survival program so the intention is, If all is going well (…) the hope is that they would have offspring.”

Exton-Parder said the program uses DNA technology to match potential tiger mates based on the greatest genetic variability. The hope is to keep the gene pool deep for this species, which is threatened in its natural habitat. Experts believe there are fewer than 400 Amur tigers in the wilds of Eastern Russia and China.

“They say there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild any more,” said Exton-Parder.

Youri was brought to Calgary from the Zoo de Granby in Quebec about two months ago.

He had to spend a month in quarantine, and he’s being slowly introduced to the other two tigers at the zoo, Sarma and Katja.

To see Youri, look for him in the tiger enclosure’s east courtyard. There, he’s getting to know Katja through the mesh.

Exton-Parder said it’s unclear how long it will take before they can be allowed in the same enclosure.

“The curators are just going to have to play that week by week,” she said. “It’s real slow. We want to make sure that everyone is comfortable.”

Exton-Parder said the Calgary Zoo has successfully bred Amur tigers in the past, although not recently. She is hoping for more success in this case.