Perth Zoo cats have roaring good birthday

Perth Zoo's 9 year-old tiger Jaya and 18-year-old lioness Shinyanga have celebrated their birthdays.

Like many of us on our birthday, nine-year-old Jaya and 18-year-old Shinyanga love celebrating with balloons, but the rare Sumatran tiger and elderly lioness prefer their decorations to be smeared with meat.

The big cats marked their birthdays at Perth Zoo on Friday with novelty toys, papier-mache boxes, streamers and meat treats.

Jaya was born at Perth Zoo, while Shinyanga was born in Dubbo, NSW before moving to WA in 2012.

Keeper Emma de Mamiel says Shinyanga's birthday is significant because she is an elderly lioness, while tiger birthdays are always worth celebrating because there are fewer than 400 left in the wild.

There are also only about 20,000 lions in the wild and they are extinct in 26 African countries.

Ms de Mamiel says Jaya knows he is a very good looking tiger but is also sometimes a solitary figure.

"Often he will find a secluded corner and stay there and have a bit of a nap," she said.

"But he also doesn't mind getting a lit bit angry and reminds you who's boss."

Shinyanga lives alone following the deaths of lion brothers Nelson and Mandela last year, but Ms de Mamiel said the big cat did so before coming to Perth.

"She's taken on a very independent role," she said.

"She can be quite a diva but she's doing very well. She often surveys her surroundings (and) does a very good job of looking after her territory."

A fresh lion exhibit will open next year, allowing a new pride to be part of the regional breeding program, but Shinyanga will remain in the current exhibit.

Ms de Mamiel said the best birthday gift for the felines was a donation to the zoo's Wildlife Conservation Action Program.

Visitors this weekend will also see more birthday treats given to the cats.