A familiar face that many members of the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society will remember has returned to the Zoo. Keemasan Mata, typically referred to as Mata, is back after more than two years at Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL. Mata, a 334-pound eight-year-old male Malayan tiger, has returned as part of a breeding recommendation under the Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Mata fathered three cubs at Busch Gardens, and zookeepers at the Palm Beach Zoo are hopeful he will mate with Berapi, the female tiger who successfully littered three tiger brothers, Jaya, Bunga and Penari, in 2011.
Nancy Nill, Associate Curator for the Palm Beach Zoo, is thrilled to have Mata back. Nill worked closely with the tiger when he was at the Zoo from November 2006 to April 2011.
“Words can’t describe how excited we are to receive Mata,” said Nill. “He was an amazing tiger to work with when he was previously here, and it appears this has not changed. He was also a favorite of many of our Zoo members, so it is an exciting time for them as well.”
“I am also looking forward to the possibility to be able to see tiger cubs born and raised here again,” she continued. “We were very fortunate the first time, so hopefully we will be fortunate again.”
Zoo officials say Mata has returned as a more experienced tiger regarding breeding, so they are optimistic that he will father cubs again. Right now, Mata is in the tiger night-house behind “Tiger Falls,” the Zoo’s Malayan tiger habitat, where he will remain until he and Berapi can be safely reintroduced.