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Tiger Trail to debut this month

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The long awaited exhibit addition to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Tull Family Tiger Trail, will open this May 24. The new exhibit is a $19 million 5.2 acres home that will house the parks six Sumatran tigers, the exhibit has been five years in the making. The Tull Family Tiger Trail is named for Thomas and Alba Tull who donated $9 million for the project.

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Tiger Trail is broken up into three separate yards as well as a birthing den that will have an outdoor area for tiger cubs to wander in. When visitors first come into the Tiger Trail there is a set of logs, with netting, that adventurous visitors can navigate to bring themselves up to a glass-viewing platform that lets them get up close the tigers. As visitors continue through the exhibit they will be surrounded by the tigers habitats, and they can watch as the tigers climb rocks, swim in streams and ponds, scratch on the many deadwood trees and of course take the occasional catnap.

There will also be an area that allows visitors to get up close, as one of the Safari Park’s trainers will be at the “Tiger Training Wall” working on animal care as visitors watch. The Tiger Training Wall is a chance for visitors to watch how the keepers care for the tiger’s health, such as asking them to open their mouth so the keepers can see their teeth. All the animal keeper experiences in the Safari Park are done by using positive reinforcement, such as using treats and positive commands.

Visitors then reach the Sambutan Longhouse, which is a cultural center in the middle of the exhibit. The architectural design mirrors that of a Pondok, which is an Indonesian hut. There are glass windows where there are heated rocks on the other side for the tigers to lounge on. Visitors will also discover facts about poaching and how the illegal trade is impacting the tigers survival.

Sumatran tigers are endangered, there are only 350 left in the wild and every year those numbers continue to drop. While habitat destruction is one of the reasons why the Sumatran tigers are dying, the main threat facing them is humans. Millions of animals are killed by poaching each year, poachers sometimes are looking to sell on the black market or simply for a trophy. The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, which is dedicated to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction, says that people can help protect tigers and other endangered species by not purchasing products that were made in a way that harm those animals environment or products made from those animals.