OMAHA, Neb. — An eastern Nebraska zoo plans to open a sperm bank and breeding facility for tigers at its nearby conservation park.

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha announced the initiatives during a Facebook Live video Monday. The video is part of a weeklong conservation awareness campaign ahead of Global Tiger Day on Saturday, the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2utAmtR ) reported.

The zoo broke ground on the breeding facility last week at its Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari in Ashland. The facility will be similar to the zoo’s cheetah breeding space that zoo officials say has been successful since opening in 2014.

The main zoo campus is also now home to a genome resource bank for tigers. The zoo is collecting sperm samples from about 130 tigers in zoos nationwide and freezing them in liquid nitrogen tanks inside its Center for Conservation Research.

Like the cheetahs, the tigers at the breeding center won’t be on display to the general public. Zoo officials said it has seen more breeding success at the safari park because of the quieter confines that give the animals privacy.

“This will enable us to more intensely manage the breeding while also giving the animals a bit more privacy,” said Dan Cassidy, the zoo’s general curator.

The breeding facility will be made up of three buildings that house approximately six Amur tigers in a 5- to 6-acre complex. Cassidy said the animals will have indoor and outdoor pens with natural substrate, trees for shade and climbing, and access to a natural pond.

“This year, we’ve actually had two litters of cheetah cubs born out there, which is a record for us,” he said. “We hope to do the same with Amur tigers and hopefully, in the future, with other species like other small cats.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com