Kirana - The Big Cat Sanctuary


Panthera Tigris Sumatrae/Sumatran TigerCritically Endangered

Interesting facts about Kirana

  • The name Kirana is of Indonesian origin and means 'beautiful sunbeam'
  • Kirana arrived at The Big Cat Sanctuary in January 2022, having retired here from Chester Zoo
  • She was born on 8th May 2006
  • This tigress has had three litters of cubs, proving a wonderful mother every time
  • Kirana is a very vocal tiger who regularly approaches the fence to have a chat with team members and guests!
  • Kirana has the most stunning markings and beautiful face - a perfect Sumatran tiger with amazing colouring and a fabulous ruff

Kirana's story

Kirana was 15 years old when she arrived at The Big Cat Sanctuary from Chester Zoo in January 2022. The decision to move her to the peace and tranquillity of the Sanctuary was made for her benefit, but also to free up enclosure space at Chester to accommodate the residents there. We always work with our fellow zoos to provide the best possible welfare for the animals in our care.

Kirana has been a very important member of the accredited co-ordinated breeding programmes for Sumatran tigers, contributing to the genetics three times by producing cubs in 2011, 2013, and 2015. She has played a vital part in the protection of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger species and will be living out her retirement years at The Big Cat Sanctuary.

The name Kirana is of Indonesian origin and means ‘beautiful sunbeam’, a fitting name for such a stunning tiger. She was known to enjoy pole-feeds during her time at Chester Zoo, a form on enrichment which the keeping team at the Sanctuary continues to provide for her.

This beautiful cat has, of course, a favourite spot to relax in – she’s often seen watching the world go by in the shade of her shelter.

All cats are given plenty of time to settle in after they first arrive, and this happens at very different rates. Kirana loves a hand-feed so her love of  chicken drumsticks helped her to gain confidence in the team at the Sanctuary. This has continued to grow, and she is now a very vocal cat whom many of our visitors get to meet!

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About Sumatran tigers

Sumatran tigers have a very characteristic dark orange coat, with very thin, closely packed stripes. As with all tiger species, these stripes are as unique to each individual, as our fingerprints are to us. Around the face is a long white ruff of fur, more often seen in males than females. As their name suggests, the Sumatran tiger’s native habitat is the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Historically, three tiger sub-species made up a grouping of ‘Sunda Island’ tigers. Two of these, the Javan and Bali tigers, have since been classed as extinct. This leaves the Sumatran tiger as the only surviving island sub-species, all others being mainland animals.

Sumatran tigers alter their behaviour and hunting in accordance with the type of area they live in. They prefer non-cultivated forests, especially areas with high elevation, dense undergrowth, and nearby water sources. They naturally avoid areas that are highly farmed and have a high level of human influence, such as palm oil and acacia plantations.

Sumatran tigers have been recorded hunting nine prey species, the largest being the Malayan tapir. The Sumatran tiger is an apex predator, so the steady decline in their numbers may eventually have a detrimental effect on prey populations, too.

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Education is key

The main threat to the wild Sumatran tiger population is the increasing palm oil trade. The tigers need continual blocks of forest in which to thrive, as – being a solitary species – this is their only way of meeting breeding individuals. The traditional medicine trade is another problem that faces the wild population, with the demand for bones and body parts showing no signs of slowing down.

Education is the key to halting this trade, and younger generations are now being taught both to appreciate the tiger, and that much their traditional medicine is actually of no medicinal value at all. Several surveys have been carried out, and it seems unlikely that there will ever be sufficient, sustainable habitat to release captive Sumatran tigers back into the wild.

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Cat care gifts for Kirana

IUCN Red List Category Critically Endangered(CR)

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