Taking tea with tigers

Auckland Zoo tiger
Auckland Zoo tiger

Big Cat enthusiasts are invited to dine with Auckland's finest next month in a bid to raise money for tiger conservation.

Auckland Zoo is hosting a breakfast with its Sumatran tigers as part of its Big Cats Weekend on August 9-10. 

There are only about 400 tigers left in the wild in isolated pockets of protected land.

Wild life trade syndicates have been targeting the tigers and the zoo says there has been an unprecedented increase in poaching incidents. 

Guests who book a spot will be served a palm-oil free breakfast, watch the tigers eating theirs and listen to a tiger keeper speak about the animals and their conservation.

The 7.30am -10am event will include two of the zoo's other big cats with a guided walk to the Cheetah enclosure as well as a Serval encounter.

Auckland Zoo helps fund tiger conservation units in Kerinci Seblat National Park in Indonesia.

"These incredibly dedicated teams have helped the tiger population here to increase from 140 animals in 2006 to at least 177 individuals today," carnivore team leader Lauren Booth said.

She said poaching teams were making monitoring of the tiger habitat, and responding to wildlife emergencies more important than ever. 

Logging and agriculture as well as the expansion of palm oil plantations are also threatening the already critical population of Sumatran tigers.

Tickets to the tiger breakfast cost $125 per person and children must be over five years old to attend.

All profits will go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund.