The Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo &Gardens’ tiger enclosure has been empty since Namaste, the beloved white Bengal tiger, died in January, but it’s being refurbished in hopes it will be occupied soon.
Pam Mizuno, the zoo’s director, said Tuesday that Dirk Arthur, the Nevada magician who donated Namaste, then a cub, to the county facility in 1999, has a breeding pair of white Bengals, although there’s no pregnancy yet.
“We’re actually making repairs that needed to be done for quite some time, so we’re getting things ready, just in case,” Mizuno said.
She said Arthur wants to donate a pair of cubs to the zoo, when and if the blessed event occurs.
“The plan would be — depending on what comes out in a litter — to get a brother and sister and to spay the sister so that the siblings would get along and so she wouldn’t come into heat,” she said. “But it depends. You could have a litter of just males or just females, so there’s a lot of questions.”
Mizuno also conceded it’s possible conception might not occur. She said the question posed most often is one she can’t answer: “When are you going to get another tiger?”
Mizuno described the repairs to the enclosure as “ongoing” and said financing would be “a combination of county funding and Friends of the Zoo funding.” The county allocated $150,000 in capital improvement funds to cover the cost of materials, she said.
Dan Beer, Friends of the Zoo president, said in an email FOZ allocated $88,000 to cover labor for the tiger enclosure, the alligator enclosure — which is also currently unoccupied — and for moving and refurbishing the pig enclosure.
“With the help of the Zoo, hopefully we will be able to address additional infrastructure issues, such as repairs and repainting of the Primadome and eventual replacement of the cage now housing the lemurs,” he wrote.
According to Beer, $22,000 already was spent on the refurbishing of the tiger night house.
Mizuno said it’s been years since the zoo has had an alligator, but officials hope to acquire either an alligator or caiman, a reptile similar to an alligator. Work on the enclosure is in progress, she said.
Beer said Friends of the Zoo will host a fundraising event June 21, and all donations are tax deductible.
“Donations will gladly be accepted from an already generous public to not only fund the ongoing tiger replacement project but to continue with additional infrastructure upgrades and animal acquisition,” he noted.
Online donations can be made at www.hilozoo.com.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.