Arya’s New Adventure

Written By: Scarlett Rockhold, Communications Manager at Zoo Knoxville

Arya is a strikingly beautiful and beloved Malayan tiger that has called Zoo Knoxville home for almost five years. Since her arrival she quickly became a favorite among zoo staff and guests. With less than 300 Malayan tigers in the wild, Arya would play an important role in the conservation of her species, so her arrival here at Zoo Knoxville represented the beginning of a very critical process. 

Because of the rapid decline in the Malayan tiger population in the wild, it is important for Malayan tigers in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain a genetically diverse population. During Arya’s time at Zoo Knoxville, Petty Grieve, curator for Asian Trek and her team have worked diligently studying and caring for Arya to make sure she has an opportunity to be a successful mother.  

Introducing female with male tigers is all about timing. Tigers are solitary animals except when it comes time to breed, so while Petty and her staff did everything they could to create chemistry, the choice ultimately belonged to the tigers themselves, Arya, Bashir, and Tanvir. And in this case, it simply wasn’t there.  

Not only is it important for Arya to breed to maintain the declining Malayan tiger population, but a pregnancy can have reproductive health benefits, too. So, what happens next?

Arya will soon be departing Zoo Knoxville and will make her home at another AZA accredited zoo, where she will be introduced to another potential mate. This move will give her the best opportunity to contribute to the preservation of her species. 

Leading up to her departure our Zoo Knoxville staff has taken extensive measures to ensure a smooth transition. When the decision was made to send Arya to her new home, Petty and her team started preparation. They have been in touch with the team that will be taking over Arya’s care to talk about her preferences when it comes to enrichment, diet and behaviors.

As a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Zoo Knoxville is part of the largest conservation movement on the planet. In order to continue the important work being done, Zoo Knoxville will continue to parter with our AZA colleagues across the country to save animals from extinction. We are honored to have played a role in Arya’s journey and the mission to preserve the Malayan tiger population!