SF Zoo to get 10-year-old Siberian tiger

10-year-old Siberian Tiger, Martha, is expected to arrive by truck in early June 2011 though she will undergo a health screening before being placed on exhibit. Tiger zoo walls have been raised 22 feet to prevent escape.

May 3, 2011 6:32:05 PM PDT
The San Francisco Zoo will get a new Siberian tiger this summer. The final decision was made at a Joint Zoo Committee meeting last week. It has been more than three years after Tatiana, another Siberian tiger, fatally mauled a teenager from San Jose and injured his two friends after jumping over the Tiger Grotto wall.

The zoos' new 10 year old tiger is named Shasta. She is is coming from the Omaha Zoo, which is remaking itself and swapping some animals out for others that will call their new exhibits home.

When the tiger gets to the San Francisco Zoo, its name will change to Martha. That is what the winning bidder chose for the naming rights at this weekend's Zoofest fundraising event.

The 295 pound Siberian will be trucked here from Omaha and should arrive by June. She will be on exhibit after a brief quarantine period.

Veteran tiger trainer Chris Austria commends the zoo for replacing Tatiana with a new Siberian tiger. He says Martha is one of only about 500 left in the world.

"I think it's really important for the public to see these endangered animals and realize their importance in the world," he said.

Tatiana's grotto-mate Tony, an 18 year old Siberian, was euthanized last year after zoo officials determined that the old tiger's quality of life had deteriorated.