The staff at the Zoo and especially the keepers in Night Hunters are mourning the loss of our male Malayan tiger, Jalil who passed away on Tuesday during a procedure that revealed significant age-related medical issues. We knew he was in decline and past the life expectancy for his species, but it’s still hard.
He loved food, his girlfriend Cinta, and playing with cardboard boxes and other enrichment items. He was very vocal and let us know when he wanted something. He passed that trait on to Batari, one of the three 4-month-old cubs that he sired. She talks a lot and even looks like Jalil.
I first interacted with Jalil in 2001, when he and his litter mates were cubs in the Zoo’s nursery. He spent several of his early years at the zoo in Jackson, Mississippi before returning home in 2007 to be paired up with a female named Hutan. They produced a litter of four male cubs in 2009. He did not sire more cubs during the next five years, from 2010 – 2015, while living at the Dickerson Park Zoo. As the third most genetically important male Malayan tiger in the country, breeding and passing on his important genes became paramount.
He returned to his home in Cincinnati again in 2015 to meet his match, a young, genetically important female from Busch Gardens. While jalil was an older, experienced male, Cinta had not been with an adult male before, so introductions were done under constant supervision. Jalil had an even keel type of personality which made him the perfect mate to pair with young and/or inexperienced females. He took his cues from Cinta and was not overly pushy or aggressive. His approach worked, and three female cubs were born a few months after the couple figured things out.
The importance of having Jalil’s genes represented in the North American population of Malayan tigers through his four sons and three daughters cannot be overemphasized as we continue to try to conserve this critically endangered subspecies of tiger. Jalil’s easy going personality will be greatly missed but it is hopeful that his descendants continue to thrive and contribute to the survival of Malayan tigers.
You can see Jalil’s cubs in the Night Hunters building, where they are strengthening their muscles and coordination before moving to the outdoor tiger yard later this summer.