Tiger twin makes a break for a mate

Blackpool Zoo's twin tiger cubs, named Radzi, left, and Barney, at three months old, in 2014

Blackpool Zoo's twin tiger cubs, named Radzi, left, and Barney, at three months old, in 2014

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The next phase of Blackpool Zoo’s tiger twins’ lives has begun - with Radzi off to Portugal where he has a possible mate.

The youngster, born at the zoo in June last year, has been matched with a three-year-old female called Mila at the Zoo Santo Inacio, in Avintes, near Porto.

Amur tiger twin Radzi who's off to Portugal

Amur tiger twin Radzi who's off to Portugal

Almost fully grown, at 17 months old, Radzi will reach breeding age in the next couple of years.

He will head off from the Stanley Park zoo on Tuesday, for a 36 hour to meet his new love, allowing fans of the special pair a week to say their goodbyes.

And Barney, named after Blackpool-born Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood, will also be off soon, once a mate has been identified and confirmed by the species coordinator, who manages the European Endangered Species Programme for Amur Tigers.

Peter Dillingham, animal manager at Blackpool Zoo, said: “It has been wonderful to see Barney and Radzi grow from tiny little balls of stripey fur into strapping young males this past year, which is testament to their parents and our excellent team.

The newborn tiger twins at Blackpool Zoo (June 2014)

The newborn tiger twins at Blackpool Zoo (June 2014)

“It has been somewhat of a big cat bonanza here at Blackpool Zoo in the last 18 months as not only did we welcome the twins but also a lion cub, who we have called Khari.

“I am sure that both Barney and Radzi will go onto become great fathers and we will certainly be following their progress in the years to come.”

The twins are the first-born sons of the zoo’s resident pair Zambar and Alyona, who have been perfect parents and will hopefully welcome more little ones in the future.

With approximately 450 individuals left in the wild, and fewer than 300 in the European Breeding Programme, the two young males will play a vital role in the conservation of officially-endangered amur tigers.

They help to raise awareness of their wild cousins and help generate money for projects in their native country.

The boys, and their future offspring, also provide an insurance population for any future reintroductions.

The amur tiger can be found in the far east of Russia and in north east China. The main threats to the Amur tiger are habitat loss and poaching.