Tigers test cat climbing post after Hamilton Zoo revamp
Tigers at Hamilton Zoo now have the mother of all cat poles to climb on.
Staff have spent months revamping the "tired" 2001 enclosure and it now boasts a big cat climbing post, a paddling pool, tunnels and a tweaked soundscape.
"We wanted to change it up to make it more viewable for our visitors but also exciting and still creating a habitat that tigers would want to be in," curator Catherine Nichols said.
"So if you think of them in their natural habitat, they've still got areas to hide in, there are young trees that will grow up and be a bit more of a screen and shade."
The redesign is not a response to the death of Samantha Kudeweh in 2015 who was fatally attacked in a tiger enclosure.
The design was a team effort with the zoo keepers considering the personalities of the five Sumatran cats and what they could do to encourage their natural behaviour.
Sound was a significant part of that. They elevated the waterfall which increases the sound of water flowing and also circulates the pool to give it movement and catch the tigers' attention.
It also creates a shallow pool and the idea is that tigers will use it to cool off in summer. They are, after all, adapted to swim with their partially webbed paws.
Most of the work was done in-house with the keepers working with the ground maintenance staff and other team members.
Gone is the old bamboo hedge.
"It was a feature the tigers would hide under so we were conscious that visitors were turning up and not always getting to see the tigers. They are secretive by nature. They are designed to hide so we had to think about that."
The revamp has seen two tunnels added so the tigers can get shade and also feel more secure. There is also a tree growth area which gives tigers comfort.
"It gives them security and comfort while still allowing us visibility.
"I think they've really enjoyed it so far. They've put in a big climbing tower with a rope feature which allows the keepers to put an enticement up high to encourage them to climb."