The Assiniboine Park Zoo is building a new Amur tiger enclosure that will give the endangered cats about nine times more living space.
Work will begin this summer on a 26,000-square-foot Amur tiger enclosure that will connect to an existing 2,900-square-foot space for the large felines, which are also known as Siberian tigers.
The $350,000 enclosure, which should be completed this fall, will include a pond and existing trees that will provide cover for the tigers, said Don Peterkin, chief operations officer for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, the non-profit organization that runs Assiniboine Park.
The enclosure will allow the zoo to breed more Amur tigers, who number less than 500 in the wild and are in danger of worldwide extirpation. The species may exist only in zoos within a generation.
The new enclosure has been funded by a $500,000 donation to the zoo from Winnipeggers James Cohen and Linda McGarva-Cohen. She said she hopes the breeding program will eventually allow Amur tigers to be released back into the wild.
The enclosure is part of a larger $1-million expansion of the Asian cats area at the zoo. The plan is to build two other new enclosures to increase living and breeding space for Asian lions as well, Peterkin said.
A total of $120 million in renovations are underway or planned for Assiniboine Park Zoo as part of a broader, $200-million reconstruction of Winnipeg's largest park.