Sure you've heard of Flying Tigers—the U.S. pilots recruited to fly for China in the '40s or maybe the airfreight company later named for them. But what about a real flying tiger? At 7: 30 a.m. on Nov. 6, a 23-month-old male tiger arrived at Miami International Airport by plane. It was met on the tarmac by Miami Metrozoo staff members, who whisked it off to the zoo's quarantine facility in southern Miami-Dade County.
The young Indo-Chinese tiger belongs to an extremely endangered species: It's one of fewer than 2,500 of its subspecies left in the world and one of only 43 in all of North America. (In the wild, the species is found in isolated pockets of Southern China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and peninsular Malaysia.) The tiger was sent to Metrozoo on a breeding loan from the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, where it was born in December 2002. Metrozoo is slated to receive a female to be paired with this animal as part of a cooperative captive management program known as a Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is an international effort using carefully planned captive breeding to maintain a reservoir of genetic material, representing an endangered species, which can serve as an insurance policy against a very uncertain future in the wild.
The special and sensitive transport of the tiger was donated by DHL. In addition to the tiger and its travel companion, Fort Worth Zoo curator Ron Surrat, DHL will also be transporting a giant Aldabra tortoise, which will reside in Metrozoo's giant tortoise exhibit.