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Achilles, Howlett’s latest addition

VIDEO: Animal park welcomes new tiger

Achilles, a male Sumatran tiger, is the latest addition to Howletts Wild Animal Park at Bekesbourne.

He has moved from London Zoo as part of a breeding programme designed to save the species from extinction.

Sumatran tigers are at critical risk in the wild with only 400 or 500 remaining.

Weighing in at nearly 20 stones, Achilles is still young and belongs to the smallest sub-species, but is expected to grow to more than 22 stones.

Mark Hawkes, deputy head of carnivores at Howletts said: “Achilles is already settling in well to his new habitat.

“He’s a very handsome cat, strong and confident. He’s been exploring at his own pace and when he’s not exploring he’s either sunbathing on one of his high platforms or resting in the shade.”

To help Achilles settle in to his new home keepers have been giving him special treats.

Mark added: “Achilles is very motivated by food and he seems to really enjoy this type of interaction with us, although he likes to remind us that he is mighty by occasionally hissing at us through the fence.”

Habitat loss, conflict with humans and poaching have all contributed to the Sumatran tigers’ dwindling numbers.

Howletts animal director Adrian Harland said: ‘”It is a sad fact that Sumatran tigers are critically endangered in the wild.

“Captive breeding programmes could play a vitally important role in saving the species and, once we have introduced Achilles to a suitable mate, we are all hoping that it won’t be long before we hear the patter of tiny paws at Howletts.”

Howletts will hold a special day on July 29 as part of International Tiger Day. There will be opportunities to win a tiger encounter experience and help to raise valuable funds for Howletts’ work.

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