Tallink helped Tallinn Zoo with tiger transport from Finland - the Amur tiger Ohana arrived at its brand-new home, Tiger Valley aboard the Megastar ferry

  • 2024-06-17

TALLINN – Last week, on Wednesday, 12 June, the newest member of the new Tiger Valley exposition of the Tallinn Zoo, the female Amur tiger Ohana, arrived in Tallinn from the Finnish Korkeasaari Zoo aboard the Tallink Grupp’s shuttle-vessel Megastar. During the sea voyage between the capitals of Finland and Estonia, the third tiger to arrive at the soon-to-be-opened Tiger Valley, Ohana, was accompanied by the staff from both zoos, and the transport was organised in cooperation between Tallink Group, Helsinki’s Korkeasaari Zoo and Tallinn Zoo, the transport was sponsored by Tallink Group. Another planned transport of the fourth addition to Tiger Valley of the Tallinn Zoo – a male Amur tiger Aleksander - is planned with Tallink Grupp’s sponsorship later this summer.

"There is a bit of excitement in the air, of course, when transporting such a special passenger, and it is a different experience, although, on a larger scale, for the vessel’s crew, it is still a so-called cargo unit which is very specifically prepared for transport and handled in a very special way," commented Megastar’s captain, Master Urmas Mets. "We transport larger animals in specialised cargo vehicles and customised cargo units – trailers - and, this means, first of all, for the ship’s crew that we have to load this unit of cargo according to the wishes of the owner, to provide the necessary conditions for observing the animal and caring for the animal during the trip.  We were pleased to do our part and make sure that tiger Ohana and her attendants had all the necessary conditions to make sure the sea voyage passed as smoothly and safely as possible for our exotic passenger, as well as all for all of our other passengers on this departure," said captain Mets.

"For all wild animals, but especially when it comes to highly intelligent and sensitive tigers, it is very important to ensure that the transport is well organised and the journey goes very smoothly, as tigers are very sensitive to being transported. Secondly, it is very important that during the journey they are disturbed as little as possible, and thirdly, it is imperative to maintain the right temperature during the voyage. Therefore, it was very important for us to be able to be loaded on the vessel’s car deck as the last vehicle, and drive out from the ship as the first, just as we requested - we were even given an entire separate lane just for us on the car deck. Tallink fulfilled all our requests concerning tiger transport - we did not have to queue or wait; proper ventilation was well ensured on the crossing, and we had enough space on the ship. We would like to thank the Megastar crew and captain very much - we saw that Tallink cares very much about the welfare of our animals," Aleksandr Semjonov, Acting Head of Animal Collection of Tallinn Zoo and Chief Veterinarian, said.

"The four-legged friends of our passengers are definitely most welcome on our vessels," Marina Jõgi, Head of Group Products and Sales, Tallink Grupp, said. "We have approximately twenty thousand pets travelling with us every year, and in the last five years we have transported more than 93,000 animals on board our vessels. Normally, mostly dogs and cats travel with us, but we also transport horses and other larger animals, and from time-to-time, we also carry more exotic animals. Onboard, smaller pets can be taken with their owner to the public areas, larger animals travel in specially adapted vehicles and also in a kennel. We have cooperated with the Tallinn Zoo before, for example, in 2011, we transported a mained wolf from Sweden to the Tallinn Zoo. The Amur tiger is definitely our most exotic animal to-date to transport, and we are very glad that we were able to come to the aid of our good partners, Tallinn and Helsinki zoos this time too," Jõgi said.

The female Amur tiger Ohana who turns two in August, was born and raised in Finland, at the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki. The decision to bring Ohana to the Tallinn Zoo was made by the coordinator of the Amur tiger breeding programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). The ex-situ breeding programme aims at conserving healthy populations of endangered animals in captivity. Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is the most Northern tiger subspecies native to the Far East. Currently, there are about 500 Amur tigers in the wild.

“We’re happy that Ohana’s transport to her new home went very smoothly,“ said Hanna-Maija Lahtinen, Mammal Curator of Korkeasaari Zoo. "We had two young female tigers raised by their mother and Ohana is the independent one, so it was a good time for her to get a territory of her own. She gets to be one of the first inhabitants of the new Tiger Valley in Tallinn Zoo and we hope to come to see her cubs there one day, as it takes only a short ferry trip from Helsinki."

The three Amur tigers Ohana, Pootsmann and Danute who arrived at the Tallinn Zoo last week, can be admired by visitors in a few weeks, when the animals have successfully adapted to the new conditions. Tallinn Zoo's Tiger Valley exposition will be opened to visitors in June 2024.