Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Awards Savelii Memorial Fund Grant

August 8, 2021

As you know, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and our community raised funds in our time of heartbreak after losing our female Amur tiger, Savelii, in March 2020. I wanted to update you on the steps we have taken to put those funds to use and about the importance and conservation impact of this funding.

Please enjoy this recorded presentation on Amur tiger conservation, lead by the coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Tiger Program in Russia. This one-hour presentation originally aired live on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. It includes updates on the steps we have taken to put our Savelii Memorial Fund to use and information about the importance and impact this funding will make under the direction of WCS.

As caretakers of endangered and threatened species, we walk a fine line to balance doing what’s right for the individual animals in our care, but also making hard decisions for the future of the species, both in the wild and in human care. When our Amur tiger Savelii passed away earlier this year from anesthetic complications after an artificial insemination procedure, the loss hit our Zoo family and community hard. However, while losing Savelii was difficult, the reality is that there are treacherously few wild Amur tigers remaining – around 500. Unfortunately, the passing of our one tiger might get more attention and discussion than the fact that a future for wild Amur tigers remains uncertain.

In Savelii’s memory, we wanted to make a lasting impact for Amur tiger conservation. With the help of our local and global community, plus funds from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, we were able to raise a total of $88,170 for Amur tiger conservation.

Over the past five months, we have spoken with multiple Amur tiger conservation programs to determine the best way to move Amur tiger conservation forward in a significant way. We have decided to donate the majority of our Savelli Memorial Fund to an exciting and important project taking place in the Russian Far East, where the largest populations of wild Amur tigers reside.

As temperature patterns change, the ranges of prey species can change. Amur tigers are now migrating further north in the forests of the Russian Far East. In support of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Savelli Memorial Fund will go to support conservation efforts that protect Amur tigers in these locations, and the projected locations that the tigers are migrating into. Specifically, the work here seeks to provide secure landscapes for tigers to breed and rear young, to monitor populations of tigers and their prey, and to support law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts using trained rangers with new technology.

With our shared donation of $88,170, which was raised thanks to donations from the smallest gift of 35 cents to larger gifts of $2,000, we will all be making a difference for Amur tigers in their natural habitat. While we still feel the tragic loss of Savelli, we are able to also feel hopeful that her legacy will live on to help her endangered kin in the wild.


Bob Chastain
President & CEO
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2021, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #3 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 241 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of very few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.