Since the project broke ground last spring, the Phoenix Zoo’s staff has been anticipating the opening of the new tiger exhibit. The zoo has had the tigers for more than a year and is giving them a new home.
Isle of the Tiger is a nearly 20,000-square-foot sanctuary built to house the zoo’s two Sumatran tigers – Jai and Suriya. It includes features such as a pool, climbing trees and more room for the tigers to roam.
“We had to rotated them at the old exhibit,” said Shawna Farrington, a senior carnivore keeper. “Now they can actually be outside in a larger area at the same time so we don’t have one cat inside, one cat outside.”
The new exhibit is divided into two yards to separate the tigers. It has a gazebo and extra viewing area for all-around coverage of the animals.
“I think people really like being able to see the tigers up close now,” said Jessica Reese, night camp instructor. “Before, you would have some distance, and you couldn’t get a real feel for how big they are. I think it’ll be great.”
The zoo’s budget for the project was $2 million.
“It’s not to say that our old exhibit was bad because it by no means was, ” Farrington said. “This is actually a little bit better for the animals because you can actually view both animals at the same time.”
The enclosure will be open for zoo members Friday and Saturday. It will not be open for the public until Sunday.