Tigers may not be known for climbing trees or sitting up in branches like leopards, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like being high up. Providing platforms for big cats is a must as they enjoy being able scan their surrounding area, giving them a view of prey or danger, thus providing them the chance to move away . Platforms, or elevated areas also provide perfect spots for sunbathing if located in the correct part of the enclosure. Tigers can spend hours simply sprawled out relaxing in the heat of the sun.
Platforms and other such structures can be created in a number of different forms. For instance, they can be static, providing a solid place on which to rest. In these instances, it is also great to have various levels, encouraging the tiger to exercise through jumping up and down. These levels also mean that the 3D space within the enclosure, or even night room, is used more effectively. Platforms with levels will also provide elements of shade.
Raised areas can also be hanging and moving . While tigers are not likely to climb onto a swinging branch, a low slung hammock can be an attractive option. Sturdy hammocks can be made using old fire hoses and offer a very comfortable spot for tigers to sleep.
Other options include creating levels for the tigers to walk along. Though they may not spend times in trees such as leopards, again, they enjoy being able to view areas from a vantage point. These structures for climbing will need to be relatively wide in order for the tiger to feel comfortable climbing up them. If these levels are wide enough to lie on, then tigers will often be found relaxing along these too.
Caves or cave-type structures also provide these opportunities, while providing a more sturdy base and doubling up as sunbathing spots and hiding spaces or cooler areas depending on the tiger’s need.
Some facilities even implement fully enclosed walkways or flyovers so that the tigers can walk from one enclosure to another – a notable example of this being at Philadelphia Zoo. Offering this option means that the tigers get the all-important element of choice within their environment. Tigers are able to change location for greater variety, it increases the opportunity for longer travel distances, and gives the tiger a good vantage point and additional social stimulus provided by the visitors and other animals they encounter throughout the trail.
1). Lyons, J., Young, R.J. and Deag, J.M. (1997). The effects of physical characteristics of the environment and feeding regime on the behavior of captive felids. Zoo Biology 16, pp. 71-83.
2). Law,G., Macdonald, A. and Reid, A. (1997). Dispelling some common misconceptions about the keeping of felids in captivity. International Zoo Yearbook. 35, pp. 197-207.