Rolling Hills Zoo is planning to celebrate the birthday of its aging white tiger, Raja. According to the zoo, Raja will be treated to special enrichment at 2:30 in the afternoon while visitors, staff, and keepers wish him a happy birthday.
Raja came to Rolling Hills Zoo in July of 1996, when he was just eight months old. “Raja has always been one of our superstars here at the zoo”, explains Vickie Musselman, Head Keeper at Rolling Hills. “We are all really attached to this beautiful animal, who is a favorite of our visitors”.
All six types of tigers, Bengal, Siberian (Amur), Sumatran, South China, Malayan, and Indochinese, are endangered. According to some estimates, fewer than 5,000 tigers may be left in the wild. Other biologists feel that the number may be lower – around 3,000 animals surviving in the wild. White tigers are incredibly rare as their coloration is dependent on a defective, recessive gene that is passed on from their parents. Over the past couple of centuries the white tiger has become even rarer in the wild due to trophy hunting or capture for the exotic pet trade, with no recorded sightings in the wild for the past 50 years.
At the age of 18, Raja is now considered to be in his golden years, with the median age of a tiger in captivity being 16 to 18 according to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
The celebration for Raja is this Wednesday at Rolling Hills Zoo.