Wildlife park staff are celebrating after a dangerous tiger matchmaking session proved a success.
The two endangered tigers are now living together happily at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park after an introduction session which could have easily ended in death or injury.
The Amur (Siberian) tigers Vladimir and Sayan had been living in neighbouring enclosures for eight months before the introduction, which staff hope could lead to breeding in the future.
Wildlife park director Cheryl Williams said: “We are really pleased that Vlad and Sayan have hit it off so well – so far.
“Everyone was extremely nervous about the introduction as you never quite know what will happen. It really is a potentially dangerous situation.”
Carnivore keeper Amy Sleight, who has been working with the tigers since they arrived, opened the door to let Vlad into Sayan’s woodland reserve.
She said: “My heart was just pounding. I was so nervous. Vlad was very relaxed and just strolled out – then he went over the hill and out of my sight as he went towards Sayan. I was just waiting, wondering what was happening.”
The pair stayed apart for a while before Vlad approached Sayan and greeted her. The tigers were quietly observed during the day and they seemed relaxed in each other’s company.
Animal director John Minion said: “It went as well as we dared hope. We were so nervous when he first went out – that is the point of no return! But it is great to see the two together and a huge relief to everyone.”