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World’s second oldest Sumatran marks 23rd Birthday

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 10 January 2023

Mencari, the second Oldest Sumatran Tiger on Records ( Image by Hamilton Zoo)

The Hamilton Zoo will mark a special event today, celebrating the 23rd birthday of Mencari, the world’s second oldest Sumatran Tiger. 

The day also coincides with the ‘Find your Fun’ activity at the Hamilton Zoo.

Sumatran tiger life expectancy in the wild is approximately 12 to 14 years. In captivity, they can live into their late teens and on rare occasions, their early 20s.

The celebration is special for the zookeepers in the Waikato region and animal lovers around the World as Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered with numbers estimated at less than 400, predominately due to habitat destruction and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.

About Mencari

Mencari was born at Wellington Zoo in 2000 and transferred to Hamilton Zoo with siblings Jaka and Molek at 14 months as part of the Australasian breeding programme. The three moved into a new purpose-built habitat and became the first tigers for Hamilton Zoo.

The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the tiger subspecies, and their population has been declining rapidly in recent decades as a result of habitat loss from logging, palm oil plantations, and poaching. As a result, no more than 600 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild.

The Sumatran tiger’s stripes are closer and its fur is a darker orange than other subspecies, allowing it to blend better into its tropical rainforest habitat.

Its distinctive beard and mane also help set it apart.

Carnivore keeper Sam Jeune, a favourite of Mencari said that although the Sumatran is understandably slower than her younger co-habitants, she has great agility for her age.

“Like most cats, Mencari spends most of her time laying around soaking up the Sun, and on a really hot day, blood ice blocks are a firm favourite,” she said.

Carnivore Team Leader Shane Fox said that Mencari is assessed daily.

“Even though she is old, we recognise that age is not a disease, so we base our judgement on her capabilities and behaviours as an individual,” she said.

Hamilton Zoo Director Dr Baird Fleming said that Mencari has started to show her age over the last few months.

“Her dedicated keepers keep a very close eye on her, with regular health and well-being checks from our vet team to ensure she is still happy and healthy, but we are aware that each birthday is even more special than the last,” he said.

Birthdays are special and with many children visiting the Zoo during the ongoing holidays, we are sure Mencari will receive best wishes from her little patrons with a few songs and lots of laughs around her enclosure.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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