Tigerly love: When Oz met Sali

TOGETHER: Hamilton Zoo's two Sumatran Tigers Oz and Sali were placed together a week ago, as part of an international breeding programme.
TOGETHER: Hamilton Zoo's two Sumatran Tigers Oz and Sali were placed together a week ago, as part of an international breeding programme.

An eight-month courtship is almost unheard of nowadays, but it's paid off for nine-year-old Oz.

The Sumatran Tiger was brought to Hamilton from Australia last year to meet six-year-old Sali, as part of an international breeding programme.

The couple spent months in separate enclosures with a fence between them, to get ''used to each other'', and were placed together a week ago.

''Sali is definitely the dominant one in the relationship,'' said zoo-keeper Aaron Gilmore. ''She's really playful.''

Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley said the zoo was  well prepared for cubs and staff  hoped for a spring litter.

''Tigers carry for 3½ months and these two have been meeting for around five hours a day, so hopefully she's pregnant. If not, there's always the next cycle.''

Waikato Times