Luca - The Big Cat Sanctuary


Panthera Tigris Altaica/Amur TigerEndangered

Interesting facts about Luca

  • Luca was born at Banham Zoo, but it didn't take him long to test the water in his pool at the Sanctuary. And he loves it!
  • One of two cubs born to mum Mishka in March 2021, Luca arrived at the Sanctuary in July 2023
  • This adorable stripey boy is very inquisitive and loves to explore and play with everything in his enclosure
  • While Luca is still young, he demonstrates a very gentle and playful nature. This may change as he gets older, but we love him just the way he is!
  • Luca currently weighs around 145kg. An adult Amur tiger can weigh up to 450 pounds and grow to be 10 feet long from nose to tail!
  • Luca was born from an EEP recommended genetic match and is an ambassador for his species who are classed as endangered on the IUCN redlist

Luca's story

Luca was one of two cubs born at Banham Zoo on 7 October 2021 to parents Mishka and Kuzma, the result of a breeding recommendation to support the Amur tiger captive breeding programme (EEP).

His story was slightly unusual. This Amur tiger family were living perfectly as a family: Mum, Dad and sibling cubs Luca and Kira. Sadly, dad Kuzma had to be put to sleep after a heart failure diagnosis, but Mishka continued to live with her two cubs.

Then, only a couple of months after Kuzma passed away  Mishka gave birth to another litter of cubs! This was a wonderful legacy for Kuzma, but it did mean that Luca needed to be moved more quickly than usual.

In the short-term he was moved to Banham’s sister park, Africa Alive. But The Big Cat Sanctuary were delighted to be told we could have Luca join the Sanctuary’s cat family.

From the moment he arrived Luca took everything in his stride and he’s loving life at the Sanctuary. He is totally adorable!


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About Amur tigers

Of the five remaining tiger sub-species, the Amur, or Siberian, tiger is the largest. Amur tigers are native to the far Eastern Amur Valley in Russia, and they are the largest naturally occurring cat in the world. They can live in sub-zero temperatures due to their longer, thicker fur coat.

Amur tigers have several distinguishing features in their coat colour and stripe pattern compared to the other tiger sub-species. Amur tigers are typically paler in colour with a pale orange coat and comparatively wide stripes. In contrast, the Sumatran tiger is very deep orange with thin stripes that are very closely banded together. The fur is very thick and coarse, due to the extreme variation in temperature in their native range.

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More about Amur tigers

The Amur tiger typically inhabits pine forest, where they have an abundance of species to prey on. When food is scarce, Amur tigers have been known to prey upon young bears, often brown bears, as they are not known climbers like the black bear, which can escape tiger attacks using the trees.

Due to the harsh environment, there is no specific breeding season for Amur tigers, and mating may occur year round. Females in season will typically spend five days with a wandering male, but will only be receptive for three of these days. Gestation is relatively short: three to three and a half months, after which two to four cubs are born, and solely cared for by the female. Female cubs typically spend much longer with their mother than male cubs, who will move away to find home ranges of their own.

The main threats to the wild Amur tiger population are very similar to those facing other big cat species: loss of habitat, poaching for the fur trade, and the use of tiger body parts in the traditional medicine trade.

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IUCN Red List Category Endangered(EN)

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