A female tiger will soon be winging her way to Hamilton Zoo, boosting the number of tigers in the city to three.

The 4-year-old sumatran tigress, who has been living at Queensland's Dreamworld, arrives in Hamilton in July as part of a breeding programme.

Sali was the only surviving cub from a litter of four and sent to Dreamworld's Tiger Island from Perth Zoo to be hand-reared after her mother rejected her.

Sali, which means 'steadfast' in Indonesian, will join the zoo's resident tigers 12-year-olds Mencari and Jaka.


Jaka won't be at the zoo much longer because he is to be swapped in the next 12 months for another male tiger who is a better match for Sali to breed with. Jaka and Mencari moved to Hamilton Zoo four years ago from Wellington Zoo.

Director Stephen Standley said Hamilton Zoo was getting ready for Sali's arrival and was expanding the enclosure so she could be housed separately from the other tigers and staff could control when she was introduced for breeding.

The alterations, which include a new bath for the tigers and a covered enclosure, will be completed by the end of June. Hamilton Zoo is paying $40,000 to get Sali into the country, including immigration and transport costs.

While at Dreamworld Sali has been interacting with the trainers, but Mr Standley said that was not the purpose of her coming to New Zealand.

"We don't interact with our tigers. From our point of view she's just a tigress suitable for breeding."

The zoo also hopes to get a 17-year-old male capuchin monkey from Australia for breeding with the females at Hamilton Zoo in the next year.

The Australasian breeding programme, which Hamilton Zoo is part of, has also been in negotiations with the American programme to swap ring-tailed lemurs.

Sali's impending arrival will be a welcome distraction for zoo staff after the death of 46-year-old chimp Fimi last week.

* Female, born on April 11, 2008 at Perth Zoo.
* Only surviving cub of a litter of four.
* Golden with dark stripes.
* Hand-reared at Dreamworld in Queensland.
* Moving to Hamilton Zoo in July 2012 to breed.
* Weighs 80kg.