Memories of Tatiana the Siberian Tiger
I was so excited the day I heard the San Francisco Zoo was getting a new Siberian Tiger to be a companion for Tony because he had been so sad for a long time after the death of his sister Emily in 2004. After Tatiana was out of her 30 day quarantine I was able to get a glimpse of her inside the Lion House. I remember she was a beautiful young Tiger and I could not wait until Tony and her finally got together. Tony would come in and out of the Lion House to check her out and they always took notice of each other. It would be several weeks before you actually got to see the two of them together. I was at the zoo the first day they tried to get Tatiana to come out of the Lion House into the outside exhibit. It was a cold rainy day so Tatiana was not willing to come out. She took one quick look outside the Lion House door and then went back in. I did not blame her for going back inside since it was cold and wet. The keepers waited outside the enclosure for about 30 minutes and decided to call it a day for Tatiana coming out that day and said they would try to let her come out again another day when she was ready.
In February 2006 they hosted Tony's birthday for Zoo Member's Morning which they would be also featuring Tatiana since she was the newest resident to the Lion House. Tatiana was constantly taking Tony's birthday gifts that he would be wanting to play with but she was pretty quick and would run off with them. She loved to jump and run around that day with rope toys and pumpkins. It actually seemed like Tony did not mind Tatiana taking his gifts. Tony was really sweet on her from the start and she seemed to make a magical transformation for him. He was no longer lonely and seemed to be brought to life when ever she was around.
I got to know Tatiana on a weekly basis of visiting her and the other big cats since the Tigers and Lions have always been my favorite while visiting the zoo. I can call out to any of the big cats and they would take notice of me and to the point they always looked excited to see me. Tatiana in particular would always get excited when I would come up to her enclosure by running up to the front of the moat to great me and then she would run off and play. She was a very friendly Tiger that loved to watch the guest as they went by.
It was a sad day when Tatiana was killed and I knew things would never be the same when I would go back to the zoo the next time. As I go to the zoo I still feel like I am going to wake up from a bad dream and Tatiana will be in her enclosure and nothing happened. I miss her greeting me when I walk up the enclosure and I miss seeing her playing with her toys cause she was so filled with life. I keep Tatiana close to my heart all the time. Those memories will never fade cause Tatiana and I had a bond that went beyond most guest that visited the zoo.
It has been six months since her death and it is still hard to believe she is no longer at the zoo and yesterday would of marked her 5th Birthday.
Photo credits: , Susan Pettitt.