DUDLEY Zoo’s Sumatran tigress, Daseep, has been chosen as the face of an international conservation campaign for Global Tiger Day.

The annual celebration taking place on Tuesday July 29 aims to raise awareness and help secure the survival of the animals for future generations.

Peter Suddock, chief executive of Dudley Zoological Gardens, said: “It is vital that we play a pivotal role in the survival of these enigmatic animals. The shocking reality is that there are just 3,500 tigers in the wild of which there are fewer than 140 surviving Sumatrans, like the pair we have at DZG.

“Our visitors constantly tell us tigers are what they want to see so it’s important that we get the message across about the future of these amazing animals and that extinction is not an option.”

Three-year-old Daseep, who is ranked as the world’s second most important genetic Sumatran female - and two-year-old male, Joao, are paired as part of a major international conservation project for one of the world’s most critically endangered species.

Dudley Zoo registrar and research co-ordinator, Dr David Beeston, said: “Tiger numbers are so low in the wild that any pair that are suitable for breeding serve a huge function in supporting their beleaguered wild cousins by keeping gene pools alive.

“Any captive population of a sustainable size serves as a safety net against the very possible threat of future extinction and Daseep and Joao are playing huge roles in conservation, education and awareness raising.”

Conservation programmes are vital for the survival of Sumatran tigers which hail from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Eight cubs produced at Dudley Zoo between 2000 and 2005 increased the world population of the species by two per cent.

Daseep, who has become a firm favourite with staff and visitors at Dudley Zoo since arriving from Germany in 2012, was chosen to become the face of 21st Century Tiger’s Global Tiger Day “as she reminds us very clearly of what natural beauty would be lost in the wild if we allow tigers to become extinct” - 21st Century Tiger manager Esther Conway said.

In support of Global Tiger Day, the zoo is hosting a programme of activities including a talk at 12.30pm at the tigers’ Tecton enclosure.

Staff wearing tiger onesies will also be handing out stickers to visitors, face painters will be giving little ones tiger faces and tiger cupcakes will be served in the Queen Mary Restaurant.