Poised to Pounce: Detroit Zoo's Amur Tiger

This tiger is ready to play in all seasons


While baseball fans await the return of Detroit’s other Tigers from Florida, this cat is well-equipped to endure the cold. Kisa (Russian for “kitty”) is an Amur tiger. Born at the Detroit Zoo in 2003, Kisa was one of three cubs in the litter. Her brother, Booskin, is now at the Racine Zoo, while her sister, Vika, lives at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Kisa and current mate, Kolyma, enjoy playing in the snow, making the waning days of winter a great time to see them in action. Kolyma, 14, arrived in Detroit about a year ago. The couple has yet to produce any offspring, but zoo officials hope they’ll eventually make the “purr-fect” pair.

The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the largest subspecies of tiger, growing up to 10 feet long and weighing as much as 660 pounds.

Because of illegal poaching and reckless deforestation of their natural habitat, there are only about 450 Amur tigers left in the wild. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has added them to its endangered list.

A fun fact about tiger stripes: In addition to its fur, they’re also found on the animal’s skin. And, like fingerprints, their patterns are unique to each cat.

Zoo staffers say the energetic Kisa has a tendency to “boing” when she’s excited; she also likes to tear up phone books. We say that makes her a real-life Tigger.

Photograph Courtesy of the Detroit Zoo, Mark M. Gaskill
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