Topeka Zoo's new tiger has a Hollywood namesake. Here's how he came by the name.
The new Sumatran tiger that arrived Wednesday at the Topeka Zoo has a pretty common name with some pretty famous roots.
Thomas is named after billionaire movie mogul Thomas Tull, perhaps best known as the executive producer of films that included "Jurassic World," "The Dark Knight," "The Hangover," "Inception" and "Man of Steel."
Tull and his wife, Alba Tull, donated $9 million to help pay to create the $19.5 million Tull Family Tiger Trail in the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, where Thomas and his brother, Conrad, were born March 5, 2012.
The past six at the Topeka Zoo were named Sanjiv, Zayana, Badar, Bintang, Jingga and Kansa Raja.
More:Zayana, a Sumatran tiger born at the Topeka Zoo, flies to her new home in New Zealand
'Could harm one another if not separated'
Thomas and Conrad were relocated in 2016 to the Kansas City Zoo, which announced last summer on Facebook that Conrad was being moved to a Florida facility for breeding purposes.
"As siblings, 10-year-old Conrad and his brother Thomas have been able to live together peacefully but have reached an age where tigers become more aggressive and could harm one another if not separated," that post said. "Tigers are solitary animals for most of their lives and typically interact only for mating purposes.
The Topeka Zoo then announced Thursday that Thomas had been moved here as part of a Species Survival Plan partnership between zoos targeted at increasing animal populations while ensuring healthy genetic diversity.
A female Sumatran tiger is set to join Thomas at the Topeka Zoo next month, in hopes of establishing another successful breeding pair, said Alexandria "Lexi" Granados, the zoo's digital content creator.
Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the tiger subspecies, and are considered to be critically endangered. Less than 500 are thought to remain in the wild, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Main threats to them include poaching, prey depletion, conflict with humans and disease, Granados said.
Sumatran tigers can live up to 25 years in captivity.
More:Female Sumatran tiger Jingga has given birth to 7 cubs at Topeka Zoo. She's going to a different zoo.
'A very successful tiger program'
Of the 72 Sumatran tigers living in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in North America, seven were born at the Topeka Zoo, Granados said.
The Topeka Zoo was acting in line with SSP recommendations when three Sumatran tigers were born there in 2014, and four more in 2018.
"Our zoo has a very successful tiger program, and because of this, we are being trusted with a valuable breeding pair," Shanna Simpson, the zoo's animal curator, told The Capital-Journal last year. "We're looking forward to the challenge, and if all goes well, we can look forward to another set of cubs in the future."
The Topeka Zoo's four remaining Sumatran tigers were sent to other zoos last year, leaving its tiger habitat empty since early December.
Thomas adjusting 'perfectly'
Because Thomas is now the only tiger here, he will complete his quarantine period in the zoo's tiger habitat, Granados said.
That means that, weather permitting, guests might have a chance to see him there soon, she said.
Thomas is adjusting to his new home here "perfectly," Simpson said.
"Our focus for the next week is to begin the relationship building process between our animal care staff and Thomas," she said. "We will be spending time with him, feeding him, beginning training and helping him get used to his new home. We are not sure when he will be viewable for the public, but we will make sure to update everyone on how he is doing.”
Contact Tim Hrenchir at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-213-5934.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Topeka Zoo receives first half of breeding pair of Sumatran tigers