Newcomer in Tiger Forest
Pavel is a 13-year-old male Amur tiger and his name means "small" in Russian

Meet the Newcomer in Forests


Published May 14, 2021

There is a new cat that visitors can see prowling through the trees of the Indianapolis Zoo’s Tiger Forest!

The majestic and mysterious newcomer is a 13-year-old male Amur tiger named Pavel, who arrived in Indianapolis in early April from Smithsonian’s National Zoo. His name in Russian means “small,” which suits him well since he is around 35 pounds smaller than our other male, Maxim. Even so, he is bigger than our female tiger, Zoya.

Tigers are the only cat species that are completely striped, and since no two tigers have the same stripe pattern, guests can distinguish Pavel from our other tigers by looking for variations. Pavel has thin, sparse stripes along his body and lighter coloration on his hind end. With short hair framing his round face, Pavel also has a tiny patch of white fur at the tip of his nose that visitors will see when he comes up to the viewing window.

Pavel came to Indianapolis through a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. This cooperative program guides AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to manage threatened and endangered species to ensure the populations of animals within our care are sustainable, healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied. Also as part of the SSP recommendation, one of the Zoo’s other Amur tigers, Metis, moved to the Smithsonian Zoo.

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are the largest of all big cat species. Revered for their strength and size, these awe-inspiring animals appear throughout the folklore in western and central Asia where they once numbered in the tens of thousands. However, by the 1940s, the wild population had dwindled to fewer than 50 due mainly to heavy poaching and deforestation.

Since then, conservation efforts have helped the Amur tiger, one of six surviving tiger sub-species, rebound from the brink of extinction. Estimates still indicate less than 400 survive in the wild, scattered across nearly 15,000 square miles of far east Russia.

Zookeeper Jill Barker traveled Primorsky Krai in Russia in 2019, extending her abilities and knowledge of the endangered species under the guidance of Dr. Linda Kerley and the Amur Tiger Conservation Project. Read about her experience.

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