The Zoo and You

Tiger Sculpture

tigerThe Virginia Zoo erected a sculpture at the entrance to the Aisa - Trail of the Tiger exhibit in honor of beloved Siberian tigers, Shere Khan and Shaka Khan. Thanks to everyone who donated and made this tribute possible!

About Siberian Tigers Shere Khan and Shaka Khan

The popular tiger pair won the hearts of Hampton Roads in the early 1990s, when a regional campaign raised funding to build them a home at the Virginia Zoo.

Originally, their stay in Norfolk was intended to be temporary.  They had been seized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service from a private owner who was apprehended for illegally transporting the exotic pair. The agency asked the Zoo to house the tigers until the court case was resolved. Because they were so young and required night feedings, zookeepers and curators hand raised the cubs, bringing them home at night.  The Zoo curator’s golden retriever joined the team by playing with the babies, cleaning them and sleeping with them.  Nevertheless, the Zoo did not have an appropriate enclosure to house full grown tigers and was prepared to help them find a new home.  tigercub

Local Exxon gas station owners decided to launch a fundraising campaign to create a permanent home.  Many recall driving Hampton Roads highways seeing stuffed toy tiger tails bouncing in the wind attached to gas tanks.  The plush tails were sold for $1 each, and the rest is history.

The tigers became iconic animals for the Virginia Zoo, and their arrival became a turning point, ushering in a transformation to create realistic, open spaces for the animals. That same year, the City of Norfolk and Virginia Zoological Society unveiled the master plan that focused on animal exhibits with a geographical theme – the first big expansion being Africa.  The second expansion, Asia – Trail of the Tiger where the sculpture will be located, is under construction. 



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