Tiger brothers debut in new habitat at Detroit Zoo

Finally, some good news about the tigers.

Detroit Zoo has introduced the new Devereaux Tiger Forest and welcomed Amur tigers Nikolai and Aleksei, 2-year-old brothers who were born at the Columbus Zoo.

The habitat is also home to 16-year-old female Kisa, who was born at the Detroit Zoo. The renovated and expanded habitat was made possible in part by a $1-million gift from the Richard C. Devereaux Foundation.

The $3.5-million habitat occupies 1 acre in the Detroit Zoo’s Asian Forest across from the Holtzman Wildlife Foundation Red Panda Forest. The space has been reimagined to closely mirror the tigers’ native landscape of far eastern Russia with naturalistic elements important to tigers, including elevated vantage points, open spaces, wooded areas, pools, a waterfall and a “catnap” cave.

The expansion has quadrupled the size of the former habitat and offers multiple observation areas for guests, including expansive views through 85 feet of acrylic windows and soaring vistas from the canopy walkway over the red panda habitat. A Land Rover intersects the acrylic window, with its hood inside the tiger habitat and the driver’s side in the public area, providing opportunities for close-up views – and amazing photo opportunities – of the tigers when they lounge on the hood of the vehicle, which will be heated in the winter.

“We have no doubt the Devereaux Tiger Forest will be very popular with visitors, especially with the incredible vantage points, and we’re sure the tigers will enjoy their new digs with more room to prowl and play,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS).

The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), formerly known as the Siberian tiger, is the largest member of the big cat family and the largest of the five remaining subspecies of tiger. On average, they can grow to 10 feet long and 3 to 4 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 650 pounds. Nikolai currently weighs 365 pounds; Aleksei tips the scales at 335 pounds.

The Amur tiger is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; it is estimated there are only around 500 remaining in the wild due to threats such as poaching, habitat loss and disease.

“We hope that by seeing tigers here at the Detroit Zoo, people will be inspired to learn more about their conservation in the wild and feel empowered to take action to help save them,” Kagan said.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.