2 John Ball Zoo tigers relocating as part of species survival plan

Posted at 9:35 AM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 17:54:48-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A change is coming to John Ball Zoo as two of their animals are set to relocate this winter.

John Ball Zoo announced that their two male tigers, Yuri and Kuza, will be participating in the Amur Tiger Species Survival Plan.

The two male tigers came to Grand Rapids in 2014 and will be leaving to be paired with compatible females.

There are less than 500 tigers left in the wild, so the tigers' participation in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) is important to maintain a healthy, sustainable, and genetically diverse amur tiger population.

The John Ball Zoo is open until Dec. 2 and the tigers will be departing later that month.

However, tigers will still be on the premises when the zoo reopens in March.

Two 1-year-old male tigers are scheduled to arrive later this winter, and will be on display for the public.

"We're essentially just changing out two breeding males for two animals that are a little bit too young to breed right now," said Tim Sampson, a Curator at John Ball Zoo. "And they'll be staying with us for awhile until they reach breeding age, and hopefully things will change where we'll be able to breed here. If not, they'll be moving to other institutions to be paired up with females once again."

In addition, John Ball Zoo still has their resident female tiger, Nika, on the premises.

Nika is expected to stay at the zoo for the foreseeable future.