Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species. It’s estimated that there are only as many as 750 Sumatran tigers left in the world, with somewhere between 400 to 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. 242 Sumatran tigers are being managed in zoo conservation programs across the world. Of the 74 in North American Zoos, the Topeka Zoo’s Jingga, has given birth to seven of them. “It’s a little bizarre to realize that for this critically endangered species, over 10% of the North American population has been born or lived at our zoo,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley.
The Sumatran Tiger program at the Topeka Zoo is the Zoo’s most successful conservation program. It has a strong on-site education program, an active reproductive program contributing to managed healthy genetic diversity and an in-situ component. “It’s our in-situ component, the armed ranger that our community funds, that is on the ground in Sumatra protecting and saving tigers that we are most proud of,” said Wiley. “That is what makes this so real.”
The Sumatran tiger conservation program from the Topeka Zoo help the Wildlife Conservation Society to employ a ranger named Bajar Johan in Sumatra for a boots on the ground effort to protect Sumatran tigers. Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant is essential to helping provide funds to the Sumatran tiger conservation program by brewing a beer called Tiger Bite IPA. For every draw they sell, they donate a quarter to the Topeka Zoo’s Conservation Fund. That Fund transfers those proceeds to the Tiger Species Survival Plan operated through the Minnesota Zoo. The Tiger SSP transfers the funding to the New York based Wildlife Conservation Society who has a field office on the island of Sumatra. WCS uses the funds generated by beer drinkers in Topeka to employ Badar, which leads to Topekan beer drinkers supporting and funding the active ground conservation efforts for an endangered species half a world away. “Who knew conservation work could be as satisfying as simply ordering the right beer at a local Topeka establishment,” said Wiley.
Since the inception of this unique partnership, Blind Tiger Brewery has been much more
involved than just a quarter a draw. In the bar area of the local brewery you can find a live
video feed from the tiger habitat at the Topeka Zoo. Coasters at the restaurant speak to the
conservation initiative. Even the bones from the bison that are harvested to make bison burgers
find their way to the Topeka Zoo as enrichment for the Zoo’s tigers.
A year ago, four extremely rare Sumatran tiger cubs were born at the Topeka Zoo. It was fitting
that one of those cubs be named by a Blind Tiger patron. The name that was chosen was Kansa
Raja, loosely translated to be Kansas King. Beginning this Friday, October 11, Blind Tiger
Brewery joins the Zoo in celebrating the four cubs first birthday. Starting Friday October 11th
through October 15 (the true birthday for the cubs) Blind Tiger Brewery will donate to the Zoo’s
Conservation Fund $1 for each of the following items that is ordered:
Tiger Bite IPA
Tiger Paws Appetizer
Tiger Wings Appetizer
Tiger-Que Combo Platter
“When else do you get the chance to eat, drink and enjoy for such a great cause? Drink a beer
and save a tiger,” said Wiley.
The Zoo’s celebration of the cub’s birthday will be this Saturday, October 12 and will run from
10:00 to 2:30 with the following activities:
10:00 Special tiger cub enrichment
10:00 – 12:00 – Tiger Keeper available to talk with guests and Docent Education Station
2:00 – 2:30 – Tiger Building Behind the Scenes Tours
All zoo activities are included with zoo admission.