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Kuzma returns to his refurbished enclosure in style!

Friday 30th April 2021

Banham Zoo marks the return of resident Amur tiger to his refurbished enclosure with ribbon cutting ceremony

A popular zoo attraction in Norfolk celebrated the return of its resident Amur tiger with a ribbon cutting ceremony whilst also unveiling its refurbished tiger enclosure.

Resident male tiger, Kuzma, had been temporarily relocated to Banham Zoo’s well known sister zoo in Suffolk, Africa Alive, where he had been staying for the past three months while the refurbishment works took place.

Kuzma returned to the zoo earlier this week and the occasion was marked with a small-scale ribbon cutting ceremony attended by 5-year-old tiger enthusiast, Freddie Bagge and his family.

Freddie welcomes Kuzma back

Freddie Bagge cuts the ribbon to Kuzma’s newly refurbished enclosure with mother Charlotte Bagge – Credit: Liam Austin

Norfolk based Freddie was invited to the ceremony following a recent visit to the zoo where the Zoological Society of East Anglia’s CEO, Claudia Roberts, had spotted the young boy becoming rather upset when he saw an empty tiger enclosure – and specially invited him to cut the ribbon when Kuzma returned.

Freddie spoke about his love for tigers saying: “I felt really excited to be invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony because I love tigers and I got to be one of the first people to see Kuzma come out of his enclosure for the first time. “I like tigers because they run really fast, they are my favourite colour orange and they can eat 300 hamburgers all in one go!”

Freddie gleaned this fact from a keeper talk at Banham Zoo two years ago where he found out that Amur tigers could eat the equivalent of 300 burgers.

Charlotte Bagge, Freddie’s mum, said: “On hearing that tigers could eat the equivalent of 300 burgers, Freddie instantly embraced them as kindred spirits and whilst “300 hamburgers” were duly requested for his own supper that night he still hasn’t managed to beat Kuzma’s record – yet!”

The repairs to the tiger enclosure are just one of the upgrades to both the zoos as a result of the Zoological Society of East Anglia being awarded a lifeline Zoo Animals Fund grant of £752,000 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) earlier this year.

Kuzma explores his newly refurbished enclosure for the first time

Kuzma explores his newly refurbished enclosure for the first time – Credit: Liam Austin

Claudia Roberts, CEO at the Zoological Society of East Anglia, said: “We are delighted to see the much loved Kuzma return to our zoo. Although he has been in the capable hands of the team at Africa Alive for the past three months, he has very much been missed by staff, keepers and visitors alike.”

“When I first met Freddie and saw how sad he was that Kuzma wasn’t in his usual home, I just had to invite him along to be our special guest at the ceremony and see Kuzma explore his newly refurbished enclosure for the first time.”

“I was even more delighted when Freddie’s mum said the experience was so magical it would no doubt kindle a lifelong passion for zoology and conservation both Freddie and his sister Tabitha – even little brother Pip was talking excitedly about tigers. For me, that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

Once Kuzma has settled back into his home, the zoo has plans to receive a female Amur tiger as part of the European breeding programme on a recommendation of breeding for this pairing.

Kuzma, male Amur tiger at Banham zoo

Kuzma, male Amur tiger at Banham zoo – Credit: Liam Austin

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are classed as endangered by the IUCN, with only around 500 though to be left in the wild.

This particular breeding programme maintains a population of around 250 Amur tigers housed in European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) zoos which are managed by a breeding programme coordinator to maintain as much genetic variability as possible.

In 2018, the Zoological Society of East Anglia donated £25,000 to Wildcats Conservation Alliance, whose mission is to save wild tigers and Amur leopards for future generations by funding carefully chosen conservation projects.

Come and welcome Kuzma back home this bank holiday weekend! Pre-book your tickets today.

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