One of the two major habitats in Jungala, Tiger Trail takes guests through the two different enclosures, and Tiger Lodge overlooks one side of the habitat.
Official Open Date: April 5, 2008
Replaced: Claw Island
Tiger Trail and Tiger Lodge were part of the Jungala expansion that officially opened to guests on April 5, 2008. The habitat was built roughly in the same location as Claw Island, which was the previous tiger habitat at the park.
The new home for tigers was split into two enclosures known as the “River” side and the “Gorge” side. Tiger Lodge overlooks the river habitat, where tigers can sometimes be seen taking a dip in the riverbed below. On the gorge side, guests can meander through Tiger Trail and see tigers through large glass windows, on a bridge suspended above the area, or in a unique pop up where guests can literally pop their head into the tiger habitat in a glass enclosure.
A female tiger, Bzui, arrived at the park in 2011 and joined the others at the habitat. Late that same year, work was continuing on the large unfinished rainforest mural inside of Tiger Lodge known as “The Giving Wall.” Guests could purchase a recycled bead for $10 with the proceeds benefiting the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
As of Summer 2012, seven tigers were on habitat, including siblings Bala and Bhutan, siblings Lanie and King (both white tigers), and Zahra. The “Tiger Tug” was part of the river habitat, where often at 12:30 and 2:30, keepers would have a tug of war with a tiger. Sometimes guests were allowed to participate in the tug, which helped show the tremendous strength tigers had in their bite.
In December 2012, keepers brought in a pile of snow from Snow World in Christmas Town as a form of enrichment for the tigers. Charisse and Kanha (both female) were the first to enjoy the snow; keepers reported Charisse was very interested in playing in it while Kanha was more suspicious and took a while to build up the confidence to investigate it more closely. Zahra and Sohan were the next group to get a chance to enjoy the snow, with Sohan being more cautious while Zahra was more eager to jump right in.
In February 2013, tigers on habitat included siblings Zahra and Sohan, along with Charisse and Kanha. On March 31, 2013, three Malayan tiger cubs were born to mother Bzui and father Mata consisting of two males and one female. They were the first Malayan tigers born at the park and the first offspring for both Bzui and Mata. The tiger cubs were named Cinta, meaning “love”, Bundar, meaning “round”, and Rukayah, meaning “delicate”.
One of the male cubs suffered from anemia and developed a rare, but benign, skin condition that naturally occurs in wild and domestic feline species. As of early May 2013, the cub was in serious condition but undergoing treatment according to the park. It was expected the three cubs and their parents would be introduced to the Jungala habitat over the summer.
In the months that followed the births, the male cub with the health issues responded well to treatment and was monitored closely by staff. The park reported in July 2013 the cub was diagnosed with mast cell tumors, a form of cancer not previously seen in tigers or other wild cats. The cub had visible tumors on three of paws, and tests revealed the mast cells were affecting him internally.
In celebration of International Tiger Day on July 29, 2013, the park held three days of festivities around the habitat, including keeper talks, face painting, and appearances of the three new cubs.
To mark the tiger cubs’ first birthday, the park held a special event on April 1, 2014, to celebrate the occasion, which included a complimentary behind-the-scenes tour to the first 100 guests (ages 5 and above) who arrived at Tiger Lodge that day.
By the summer of 2014, the three cubs began receiving alone time as they matured. The process was a slow one, with mother Bzui nearby at first, and the cubs getting more and more alone time over the course of several months.
As of October 2015, there were eight tigers on habitat.
By the beginning of 2017, a fence installed in the tunnel in front of one set of windows to keep guests from being right up against the glass. That spring, the windows in the tunnel of Tiger Trail facing the river habitat were covered over with large decals with tiger facts.
The park offered a new experience in Tiger Lodge on August 19, 2017. Painting on the Wild Side was advertised as a one-of-a-kind instructed canvas painting session, which included a meet and greet with an animal ambassador, a tiger talk by one of the park’s tiger experts couple with observing some tiger enrichment, and a one-hour painting session. The cost was $49.99 per person, with annual pass members receiving a $5 discount. A portion of the proceeds benefited the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
Another Painting on the Wild Side experience was held the following year at Tiger Lodge on December 1, 2018. This session was in celebration of International Cheetah Day and featured an up-close encounter with a cheetah, a one-hour cheetah themed painting session led by a local artist, and complimentary wine.
Two of the three cubs born at the park in 2013, Rukayah and Bundar, returned to Busch Gardens in August 2019.
In celebration of International Tiger Day on July 29, 2020, the park shared a video of 7-year-old Bundar enjoying some extra enrichment:
Additional images and details on Tiger Trail & Tiger Lodge will be added in the future.
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Last update: December 17, 2020