News & Politics

A Tiger From Chicago Has Come to DC

Cold? This isn't cold. The tiger would tell you that if he could talk.

Photograph by Roshan Patel and Amy Enchelmeyer, courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo has brought in an Amur tiger. His name is Pavel, he’s a 10-year-old male, and he will be on view in the Great Cats habitat beginning Friday. Bundle up to catch him learning the ropes with his new squad, a Sumatran tiger and several African lions already living in DC.

Even for a National Zoo resident, Pavel’s provenance is noteworthy: Amurs are originally from the forests of northern China and Russia and are listed as an endangered species. Scientists estimate there are only 360 still living in their natural habitats.

But more important, perhaps, in weather like this, is that Pavel came to the District from the Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo. As anyone from Chicago will tell you, what we’re experiencing isn’t cold. Zookeepers describe Pavel as reserved and laid-back when interacting with handlers.

Amur tigers are the largest cat species in the world, and all that extra baggage keeps them warm in their native cold weather habitats. Pavel weighs about 310 pounds, so he’s plenty insulated for the chilly weekend ahead.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.