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Sumatran tiger Mencari celebrates her 23rd birthday at Hamilton Zoo on Tuesday 10 January.

Mencari is the second oldest Sumatran tiger in current records. Sumatran tiger life expectancy in the wild is approximately 12 – 14 years. In captivity they can live into their late teens and on rare occasions, their early 20s. 

Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered with numbers estimated at less than 400, predominately due to habitat destruction and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.  

Mencari was born at Wellington Zoo in 2000 and transferred to Hamilton Zoo with siblings Jaka and Molek at 14 months as part of the Australasian breeding programme. The three moved into a new purpose-built habitat and became the first tigers for Hamilton Zoo.  

One of Mencari’s favourite humans, Carnivore keeper Sam Jeune said Mencari may be getting older and is understandably slower than our younger tigers, but she still has great agility for her age.  

When asked what Mencari enjoys, Ms Jeune said “Like most cats, Mencari spends most of her time laying around soaking up the sun, and on a really hot day, blood ice blocks are a firm favourite”.   

Carnivore Team Leader Shane Fox said Mencari is assessed daily.  

“Even though she is old, we recognise that age is not a disease, so we base our judgement on her capabilities and behaviours as an individual.” 

While still in good health, Hamilton Zoo Director Dr Baird Fleming said Mencari has started to show her age over the last few months.  

“Her dedicated keepers keep a very close eye on her, with regular health and well-being checks from our vet team to ensure she is still happy and healthy,” said Dr Fleming.  

“But we are aware that each birthday is even more special than the last.”


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