Sumatran tiger undergoes reproductive evaluation at Zoo Miami

Less than 500 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, making them an endangered species

A procedure was done at Zoo Miami on their male Sumatran tiger. Photo by Ron Magill. (Courtesy of Zoo Miami)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – This morning, Berani, a 13-year-old, male Sumatran tiger, underwent an examination at Zoo Miami to evaluate his fertility after multiple attempts to sire an offspring were unsuccessful.

Why is this so important? Well, there are less than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild where they are found in forested areas on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Their biggest threats are habitat loss to palm oil plantations and poaching.

Therefore, Berani represents a very valuable bloodline in the population that is under human care, which is why every effort is being made at Zoo Miami to maintain his ability to contribute to that population.

Friday morning’s examination was done by reproductive specialists from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska and the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio, who partnered with the Zoo Miami Animal Health team, led by Chief Veterinarian Dr. Gwen Myers.

During the examination, they collected sperm from Berani via electro-ejaculation so that it could be evaluated.

A male Sumatran tiger undergoes a procedure at Zoo Miami. (Courtesy of Zoo Miami)

Though Berani is the father of N’dari, the zoo’s six-month-old cub who is presently on display (plus, he also successfully sired an offspring back in 2015), previous fertility exams indicated a very low sperm count.

Though Berani is producing viable sperm, the density in the collected samples was low and highly diluted, which could be the reason many of his breeding attempts have been unsuccessful.

Now, the team awaits the results of blood tests to determine his testosterone level. Despite having a low sperm count, the team was successful in collecting eight straws of semen, which were frozen, helping to preserve Berani’s important genetic material for use in future artificial insemination procedures.

While Berani was immobilized, the team also performed a general health exam that included a dental cleaning, blood collection, urine collection, and a vaccination for rabies, as part of an overall preventative medicine program.

Sumatran tigers are the smallest subspecies of tiger, with males reaching up to 300 pounds and females closer to 200 pounds.

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