Metis and Nikita’s behavior will indicate to the Great Cats team when they are ready to meet face-to-face. For now, there is a mesh “howdy door” safety barrier between their indoor enclosures where they can see, smell and communicate with one another.
The team is looking for behavioral cues to determine if Metis and Nikita are comfortable enough to share a space. If so, they expect that both cats will calmly approach the howdy door, make friendly “chuff” vocalizations at one another and rub their heads together through the mesh. Nikita may even roll over onto her back. In general, when things go positively, their overall demeanor is calm and their movements are not aggressive. If they are uncomfortable, they may sit toward the back of the enclosure and appear hyper-sensitive to noises. When they are alert and on guard, that is a sign they are not very comfortable.
If all goes well and they show interest in one-another, keepers will wait until she goes into estrus to introduce them in the same space. Adult female tigers go into estrus roughly once a month (sometimes, they skip a month or two), and that is when they are receptive to sharing a space and breeding.
In zoos, Amur tigers tend to breed most frequently in the winter months. If they do breed and she conceives, her gestation will be about 103 days, or just over 3 months.