When to Euthanize a Tiger

When to Euthanize a Tiger

When to Euthanize a Tiger



At Big Cat Rescue we have a general  decision tree that we and our vets use to determine when it is time to euthanize a big cat, but every situation is different. The vast majority of the time we just aren’t sure that it is the right decision until we do the necropsy, which is the animal version of an autopsy.  The reason it is so hard to know, if we are doing the right thing, is because cats are hard wired to live the mantra of the wild; “Survival of the fittest.”

They just will not reveal their illness or their suffering until they cannot hide it any longer. We just had two situations, back to back, where we had to make the gut wrenching decision to euthanize an exotic cat.

One was an ocelot (known in Central and South America as the Tree Tiger) and the other was an actual tiger.  Both were 20-22 years old, but their histories were so different, that the decision in each case came after painful deliberation of our veterinary care team.

ocelots Amazing GraceAmazing Grace the ocelot was 22 years old and had been with us since 1996.  She had always been robust in health and purr-sonality and had been a favorite of Keepers and Guests alike.  We knew Gracie’s moods, what she liked and didn’t like to eat, how to get her to relax when her hyperactivity was getting the best of her and what her favorite enrichment treats were.

When Amazing Grace came up on the Observation Chart for NOT being excited about dinner, and yet looking bloated, we knew something was wrong and scheduled a visit with our vet, Dr. Wynn. Sedating a 22 year old cat is not something we would do without considerable cause, but Amazing Grace was in excellent condition and there wasn’t anything we could determine about her failing to eat from just looking at her.

When she was sedated it was discovered, via blood work and being able to get our hands on her, that her kidneys were done and she had several tumors.  The bloating was from fluid filling her abdomen, which is usually a sign of a failing heart.  At 22 we did not believe that she had any chance for improvement and had to say, “Good-bye” to our precious, long time friend.

Her necropsy gave us the peace of mind that we had done the right thing for her.  It revealed that she did, in fact, have liver cancer, advanced heart disease, many other masses throughout her organs and a tiny, blister – like surface over her entire omentum (the tissue that envelopes your organs).

The second situation was even harder to make because Kimba the tiger had just been rescued 17 days before we had to make a life or death decision.  We knew almost nothing about Kimba, except that she was literally starving to death in NY and that we weren’t even sure she would make it through the day that we loaded her into a transport and gave her food and water for the first time in who knows how long.

She and her two family members were all starving and dehydrated and drank 8 gallons of water between them in the first 24 hours. As soon as they arrived at Big Cat Rescue we began offering food and Zeus ate like there was no tomorrow, but Keisha and Kimba were shy about it, so we couldn’t be sure if they were coming into the feeding area at night.

Within a few days, Keisha overcame her shyness and would eat while Keepers were present, but Kimba was still not packing away the chow like the other two.  We weren’t sure if she was just more shy, or if she had been starved for so long that she just couldn’t eat as much at any given time, so we started feeding her several times a day.  She would eat a couple bites, off a long stick, but then no more.  She was seen drinking regularly, so we just did all we could to increase her food intake, in the hopes that we could build up her strength enough to sedate her and look for anything else that may be going on.

Maybe she had bad teeth and eating was painful?  Maybe she had tumors or an obstruction that was keeping her from eating?  Maybe she had some disease?  Some things you just can’t tell by looking at a tiger, no matter how well trained your eyes.

We had noticed that she was missing much of the fur from around her rump, and thought it was from sitting in her own feces in her den in New York, which was the only place she could site that wasn’t on rocks.

We wondered if the heat was too much for her, even though she had a pool and the day we rescued her it was the same temp as what we have down here.  We have overhead sprinklers and turned those on for her.

Kimba seemed happy.  She would walk around, climb up and lounge on her platforms over looking the lake and would sleep the day away, like most tigers her age do, but she just wasn’t eating enough to improve her condition any, so we had to make the scary decision to sedate a very ill, 20 year old tiger.

More about that here: http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-june-11-2014/

Her exam showed that her teeth were fine and there weren’t any palpable tumors or obstructions but her blood work showed that she had a urinary tract infection and that her kidneys were in failure.  Sometimes a UTI can make kidney values worse than they really are, so we began treatment for the UTI with antibiotics and fluids.  At her advanced age, if there was any chance of turning this around, she had to get injections twice a day and 5 liters of fluids.


To do that we had to keep her in a transport wagon in the Cat Hospital and that worked for a couple of days because Kimba didn’t feel good enough to try and get away from us as we tended to her feeding, watering, brushing out the dense and dead Siberian coat (with a long handled back scratcher), and washing her down with the hose to keep her cool and clean.

She would let us get about 3 liters of fluids in her before objecting and moving away and that isn’t something you can force a tiger to endure. Repeated sedation would kill her for sure and add to the toxicity that her kidneys were trying to purify as well.

It looked like, no matter what we did, she was going to die.  The question was, would she do so in a tiny cage, after days or weeks of being poked with needles, or would she do so in comfort?

Since close confinement wasn’t working so well, and she seemed to be in better spirits, we decided to let her back into her yard in the hopes that she would drink enough on her own and yet still come to the side of the cage to get her meds, either in her food, or via injection.

Her first day back outside she was SO happy!  You can see her pouncing around on her platforms here:  http://bigcatrescue.org/now-big-cat-rescue-june-12-2014/

But she wouldn’t take the meds in food and wouldn’t come to the side of the cage to be injected.  We still had to get them in her though and had to dart her with the antibiotics to ensure she was getting them.

She hated that and began hiding in her den and just growling when anyone approached.  We set up trail cams to see if she was getting up to eat or drink and she wasn’t doing enough of either to survive.  Her condition was worsening and she now had gone more than a day without eating at all.

So our choices were to sedate her yet again, put her back in the transport wagon in the Cat Hospital, keep injecting her twice a day with antibiotics and keep trying to give her fluids, when she was pulling away from us after only getting a tenth of what she needed and hope for a miracle, OR let her go to sleep peacefully in the one place where she had found happiness, however brief, where she could be surrounded by her tiger family and let her last moments be that of drifting off to sleep, in the shade of her beloved platforms, while gazing out over the lake?

Along with our vets we weighed the pros and cons and decided that Kimba had overcome death for the past couple of weeks through little more than her strong will and now that she was giving up it should be on her terms in a setting that she chose.

It took us several hours and many tears to make that decision, but her necropsy showed that it was the right one for Kimba; no matter how hard it had been for us.

Four days after making the decision to euthanize Kimba we got the lab reports back and they showed that Kimba’s UTI was complicated by E. coli, from the filthy conditions she was forced to live in, and that the drug we were using was the best drug for her infection. That both broke our hearts, because Kimba wouldn’t have been so ill if her former owner had just cared enough to keep her cage clean, and gave us some peace in knowing that we were doing all that was medically possible for Kimba, and that if she had not responded to the drugs by now, she wasn’t going to.

You can read tributes to Kimba and Grace here:


JnK Rescue Photos via IFAW

JnK Rescue Photos via IFAW

JnK Rescue Photos via IFAW

When we rescued Kimba, Zeus and Keisha from JnK’s Call of the Wild in Sinclairville, NY we were not allowed to film but IFAW did and shared these photos of the rescue with us to share with you.




Kimba the tiger had been almost entirely unresponsive to the rescue efforts going on around her, and had been sleeping in her den, but when we tried to shut her in it, she came out and refused to go back in.  There were no safety entrances on the cages, so there was no way to hook up our transport unless we could convince her to go back in the den, but it stank from food and feces piled inside it.


Big Cat Rescue Operations Manager, Gale Ingham, lures Kimba with a piece of meat on a stick.


The cats were literally starving to death, so Kimba tiger followed Gale back to the den.  Apparently the way the cats had been fed, at JnK’s Call of the Wild, was to close the door to the den, like you see above, then open a back door, throw the food in the den, and then let the cat in.  It worked and we were able to shut Kimba in her den so we could open a door on her cage and push our transport wagon up to the opening.  The door was so rusted that it twisted half off its frame when we opened it.



Kimba “ran” for the opening.  Even though she doesn’t seem to see very well, she knew the scent of fresh meat was in this direction.



Once she got to the door she wasn’t sure what to do though.  It took a little calling, a little patience and Kimba’s extreme hunger for her to overcome her fear.



Kimba tiger looks to see if there is any way to get the food without going in the strange new box.



Kimba comes over to the camera guy to see if he will get the food out for her.



No deal.  She has to do it herself.



There were a few false starts and stops as she stepped up and back out, but finally she hoisted her 20 year old, rickety frame up into the transport wagon.


Gale and Big Cat Rescue President, Jamie Veronica Boorstein, shut the door.



Because this was a seizure, each cat had to be rolled out into the open and photos taken by the officers with an identifying description.




We loaded Kimba into the Loving Friends transport vehicle first because she was in such poor condition and we were really concerned about her making it through the day.  The A/C was on in the trailer and it was considerably less chaotic than what was happening outside.




In a pile of fluffy hay, with food in her stomach, Kimba fell asleep within minutes.




We kept checking on her to make sure she was still alive.  She seemed at peace.



This was a brand new transport that was custom built by Loving Friends Transport.



It was designed with safety in mind, so it was pretty heavy to roll up the ramp.




Next to be caught was Zeus.  Since he was still sleeping in his den, we shut him in and it went a lot faster.


We opened the door and Gale ran with a piece of meat and Zeus in hot pursuit.



We had to cut a hole in his cage to attach the transport.



Even though there were pipes in the way that we couldn’t cut and the hole for him was way too small, he forced himself through it to get to the meat that Gale had enticed him with and Jamie quickly shut the door.



Jamie lowered the door behind him.



Zeus is photographed by the authorities in case there is any lawsuit filed after the seizure.


JT and Laura Taylor, of Loving Friends, provided much needed muscle to get the cats rolled up into their transport vehicle.




Someone needs to buy JT a Big Cat Rescue shirt for these rescues.



Jamie is usually the one to steer the transports because she does it so well, but JT is really good at it and stronger.



Zeus is busy eating the rest of the food he got for going in the wagon and doesn’t care where they are hauling him.



Laura and JT spend most of their time rescuing domestic dogs from puppy mills and relocating abandoned dogs from shelters where they cannot find homes to larger shelters where there are more adoptive parents.



Laura and JT’s first tiger rescue was Amanda, Andre and Arthur tigers that we rescued in 2011 from the Wild Animal Orphanage in TX.





Next up is Keisha and Gales says, “Can anybody, who isn’t holding a gun, please help push?”



Jamie squeezes down between Kimba’s cage on the left and Keisha and Zeus’ cages on the right to put out transport wagon in place for catching Keisha.



At first we thought we might just let Keisha into Zeus’ cage, after he was out, because we already had a hole cut, but Jamie noticed that there was a double wall between tail-less Keisha and the two lions next to her.  All of the cats had shared walls, sometimes with bears and wolves, but the one cat, with no tail, had a double wall between her and the lions.  If we let Keisha into Zeus’ cage, there was a shared wall with the same lions and we really didn’t want to have to break up a lion and tiger fight, so we did it the hard way.



Jamie usually just stands on top of the transport wagon and lowers the door, but we were pretty sure Keisha wasn’t going to go in there if someone stood on top, so Jamie created a makeshift pulley for the rope and I went in Kimba’s empty cage to hide and hold the rope.



The cage walls were not very high and Keisha was really, really hungry and knew we had food.   This could get very ugly, very fast.



Gale tries to lure Keisha tiger into her den so we can cut a hole in the wall to our transport wagon.



Keisha is so frantic for the food that she is jumping up on her back feet and clawing frantically at Gale and the den.



The IFAW camera guy has a Go Pro on a long pole and Keisha momentarily mistakes it for beef on a stick.



Keisha pushes her nose out through the huge gaps in the wire to make sure the Go Pro isn’t something to eat.



Keisha is getting pretty frustrated because she just doesn’t understand.  Note the lions in the back ground.  They were NOT helping matters any.



Despite her growing frustration, Keisha didn’t hiss or snarl at anyone during the loading.


Once Keisha finally fell for the trap she was photographed and loaded.



Upon arrival we were told that we only had 30 minutes per tiger to get them loaded or they would have to be sedated in order to not hold up the rest of the rescue teams.


We managed to get all three in their transport wagons within our 30 minute time allotment and were very happy that they didn’t have to go through the risk of sedation in their weakened states.



The clouds were rolling in too and we really thought we would be rained out, but the weather held until the last of our tigers were on the loading ramp.




Once inside it would be a 22 hour, straight through trip to Tampa.  Laura and JT had just driven up two days before and then were helping load the tigers before they would have to head out on such a long and tiring journey.




All along the way stops were made to insure the cats were comfortable.


The tigers drank 8 gallons of water on the way to Tampa.




The Loving Friends transport trailer is air conditioned, has CO2 monitors and is monitored by webcams that display to the driver so they can watch for any trouble, all along the way.



We had to borrow two transport wagons for this trip.



One from Loving Friends Transport and one from our insurance provider, Mitchel Kalmanson.



We brought the fourth transport because we were expecting to pick up another tiger named Sasha, but she had died before the rescue.  No one seems to know when.  Some volunteers said she was there in the summer of 2013.  The owner of JnK had put her on the list of cats she wanted to give up in Feb. 2014, but then she changed her mind and made the state come and take them from her.



You can read more about the rescue of Kimba, Keisha and Zeus at http://bigcatrescue.org/jnk/


A huge shout out to IFAW for providing us with these images and to everyone who helped us rescue these cats from certain death and giving them a second chance in paradise.


Jamie snaps a few photos once the tigers are in the transport, since we were not allowed to film outside the transport.


Rescue of Sophia the Cougar

Rescue of Sophia the Cougar

Sophia the cougar and VP Cathy NeumannSophia Female Cougar

DOB 1/1/91 Rescued on 1/22/09 Died 7/24/10

“Will anyone give me $200 for this fine breeding age puma?” the auctioneer’s voice blasts over the loud speakers in the livestock barn during an animal auction in Louisiana. A red neck raises his number, thinking to himself, that he can mount her head and that of the male cougar he just bought over the T. V. in his trailer. The gavel slams down and Sophia’s life has just taken a perilous change for the worse. She and her mate had been ripped from their mothers when they were cubs, declawed and bottle raised to be used as ego props. When they were little they could be used for photo opportunities and could be walked about on leashes as mini trophies. Now they were too big for that and their owner had crated them into tiny cages and consigned them over to a live animal auction.

These auctions are legal in the US and all manner of exotic animals, many of them endangered species, are sold to anyone who has the cash. To qualify as a buyer is pretty straightforward; if you are buying an endangered species, like a tiger, you have to have proof that you live in the state and if you are buying any non endangered animal, all you have to do is prove that you don’t live in the state. Once you leave the state, no one in the selling state cares who you are or what you do. If you are buying within your own state lines, then your state may or may not have some regulations. One thing is true everywhere and that is that even states with regulations never have the money or resources to properly enforce them. 7 states have no rules so anything goes. Want to walk your tiger through a nursing home or a grade school? “No problem” say a lot of states, including Florida, where we have repeatedly documented that very issue.

Sophia’s new owner loads her and the male cougar into a truck and heads to a taxidermist he knows in Laronger, Louisiana named Joe. The story, as relayed to me by Joe, was that the owner pulled up and promptly shot the male cougar, announcing that he wanted the cat stuffed and mounted. Hearing the gun shot, Joe’s wife Mary came running out of the house, just in time to see the gun leveled as the trembling female cougar in the tiny crate. Mary yelled out, “Don’t shoot the cougar! Oh please! Don’t kill the cat!”

Sophia CougarJoe described himself to me as a wildlife sculptor, but when pressed for details of his art, he lowered his gaze and said, “My sculptures are cast into molds that are then sold to taxidermists.” When animals are skinned and mounted, their skins are stretched over these plastic reproductions. Joe is famous for how lifelike his reproductions are and he credits that to studying the live animals. His acreage is divided into pastures full of caged animals who are often killed for sport.

The redneck advises the couple that he paid good money for these cats so he could mount them on his wall. He looks to Joe to explain to the missus that she needs to mind her own business. Joe has done well for himself. The large, fenced track of land sports a very large home, with high glass windows out onto Joe’s world, and a wrap around deck so that he can sculpt with unobstructed views, all of the creatures who are posing for the lifeless bodies of countless others of their kind. There is a barn the size of an airline hangar that houses row upon row, floor to ceiling, of the plastic reproductions of his art. His business is primarily selling to taxidermists.

Joe startles the red neck by asking, “How much for her?” The gun’s barrel drops earthward as the killer reckons that he paid $200 for her and it cost him $50 to get her here, or in other words, he wants a $50 profit. Mountain lions are cheap. He can buy another one. Joe agrees and moves Sophia into a chicken coop.

That was 13 years ago and what looked like a chicken coop to me was probably used for housing fancy pheasants who were used as models for the stuffed bodies of exotic birds that are killed for fun. When Maria Davidson of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries called and asked me if we could rescue a cougar, she had told me that the cat was in a concrete floored cage that was made of chain link. She said the cage was roughly 6 feet by 8 feet by 6 or 8 feet high. A tip had resulted in the department’s seizure of the cougar, but they had been told it was a cub, so when law enforcement arrived to take the cub to a willing new owner, they discovered an aged cougar instead. The person they had found, who would have been happy to rescue a cub, had no use for an adult and refused to take the cat, so Maria called Big Cat Rescue.

We noticed upon arrival that law enforcement officers were wearing flack jackets. Scott Lope, Chris Poole and I had not gotten THAT memo! I had overheard some of the officers talking about an infamous case involving the stealing of a 17 point buck and selling him for $3000 to a breeder in Louisiana (after the TX buyer defaulted on paying a promised $8000 for the deer when he heard it was hot property.) The lucrative trade in wild animals is only second to the illegal trade in drugs. It is rife with criminals and people who have little or no regard for life.

Sophia CougarMaria suggested that only a small crew go around the house to the coop so that the cougar would not be stressed by new faces. I already liked Maria, because of all she is doing to end the abuse of wild animals in Louisiana, but this appreciation for how the cat was feeling just strengthened that good impression. She took her vet, Dr. Lacour, Scott and Chris down to assess the situation so we could decide which of the three types of transports we brought would be the safest and easiest way to move her. What they discovered was that the cat was in what appeared to be the final stages of renal failure and she could not walk. 17 is old for a mountain lion and renal failure is common in cats because their diet is high in protein. Cats only live 10 or 12 years in the wild, so their parts aren’t designed to last this long.

If Sophia could not stand, there was no way she could be coaxed into walking into the transport. With ears flattened back she didn’t trust humans and her hissing punctuated the unspoken threat to bite anyone who came near her. These situations are never black and white and this one presented a dilemma as well. On the one hand, this cat had lived in this chicken coop for 13 years and maybe it would be kinder to just let her live out her last few days here.

On the other hand, she had only a tattered tarp tied to the west wall of her cage, probably more for shade than to break the cold, damp northern winds. She had a concrete floor and a low concrete bench because the owner said that made it easier to clean. Even if we were to give him the hay that we had brought for her ride, there was no reason to believe that he would use it. In another Louisiana case, with the help of Sky Williamson, we had made sure that Tony the tiger got hay, but the Tiger Truck Stop had refused to give it to him. It is messy and these animals were not beloved pets who could impose on their owners’ desire to make things easy on themselves.

We decided that even if Sophia only had a few days left to live, they should be in comfort and as much as we hate to tranquilize a cat, the only way she was going into her hay filled transport cage was if she were sound asleep. While she was sleeping Dr. Lacour did an exam and drew blood so that our vet, Dr. Wynn, would have a good idea of how progressed her situation was so that we could treat her accordingly.

Scott, Maria, Dr. Lacour and Guy the law enforcement officer who told me this was his first “cat call” in 18 years on the force, made a sling from a blanket and used it to carry Sophia out of her tiny, barren prison cell and into the next stage of her pitiful life.

We loaded her transport into the van so that we could keep an eye on her and better regulate the temperature to keep her warm. It would be a 12 hour ride back to Tampa and silence in the van allowed her to sleep most of the way. As long as the van was rhythmically rocking down the road she slept or laid quietly on the only softness she has known in more than a decade. (Was that a purr?) Since it was cold in Tampa when we arrived at 1 am we decided to move her transport into the cat hospital for the night.

The next day she still was having a very hard time moving about, so we decided to keep her inside on her fluffy hay palette until the weather breaks. It has been in the 60’s during the day but has dropped into the high 30’s and 40’s at night. Meanwhile her new Cat-a-tat, which is 1,200 square feet of space, is being modified a bit more to accommodate her disability. I called Mary to let her know that Sophia had arrived at Big Cat Rescue safely. I was appalled at the way the cougar was kept all these years, but if not for Mary pleading for her life, Sophia would be just another nameless animal head on a wall.

Sophia CougarLate on the 24th we hooked the hay filled transport cage to the front of Sophia’s new enclosure. We set up her water near her as her eyesight is very limited. She ate well last night and sleeps a lot. Just the quick move from the West Boensch Cat Hospital on site to her new home near the other cougars seemed to wear her out, even though she was just being carried like royalty in her cat version of a rickshaw. The volunteers had prepared her new digs by converting every step over door into an ADA ramp. The also piled boughs of Christmas trees in her cave and about her enclosure so she could sniff her way along the scented path to all the best features of her new home.

We don’t know how long Sophia may have in this world, but thanks to all of our supporters, staff and volunteers, she will have the best life possible from now until then.


All photos were shot at Big Cat Rescue on the day Sophia was moved from the cat hospital to her new Cat-a-tat. To see a slide show of photos click HERE

Tribute to Sophia the Cougar:  https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/sophia-cougar

Importing Generic Tigers

Importing Generic Tigers

Is it really illegal currently?

Rescinding the generic tiger loophole will stop the virtually unregulated inbreeding and cross breeding of tigers who are already in the U.S. because the breeder would have to submit an application showing how breeding the tiger would save tigers in the wild and thus serve some conservation value.

Most tigers are bred just to use the cubs until they are 12 weeks old and then they are discarded or warehoused.  http://bigcatrescue.org/abuse-issues/issues/pet-cubs/

As I read through the current rule it looks as though you currently cannot import a generic tiger because it would serve no conservation value.  If that rule were rescinded and generic tigers were treated the same as purebred tigers then one would have to apply for an import permit, but it appears that it would still be turned down because the generic tiger serves no conservation value.

The USFWS rubber stamps the circus moving tigers back and forth all the time and there is nothing about a circus that serves conservation value, so I’m wondering rescinding the generic tiger loophole would affect the rescue and import of generic tigers from awful situations in foreign countries where the tiger’s lineage is in question?

[Federal Register: August 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 155)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 48914-48919]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

…International trade in tigers has been a source of concern to conservationists and species experts for many years. According to Inskipp and Wells (1979, p. 40), big cats already showed signs of becoming rare in the 1960s. Three tigers

[[Page 48917]]

were imported into the United States in 1968 (Jones 1970, p. 19). During 1968-1972, 17 living tigers were imported into the United States (McMahan 1986, p. 468). Following the ratification of CITES in the United States, during 1979-1980, a total of 103 live tigers were imported according to Service records. Overall, a total of 317 live Appendix I tigers were reported in international trade during 1979-1980 (McMahan 1986, p. 471).
More recently in the United States, more than 130 live tigers were either imported, exported, or re-exported legally during 2004-2006 (purpose of transaction: zoos, circuses and traveling exhibitions, and breeding in captivity; Service 2008c). About 6,000 illegally obtained items during that same time period were either abandoned at the port of entry or seized by U.S. law enforcement officials (primarily skins, teeth, trophies, and articles used for traditional medicine).


At the international level during 1976-1990, the average annual trade in tigers reported to CITES was about 16 individuals per year (primarily trophies; Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 226). Elsewhere, reports about India (Environmental Investigation Agency 1998, 2006a, 2006b; Wright 2007) and Indonesia (Sumatra Island; Ng and Nemora 2007; Shepherd and Magnus 2004) document an ongoing illegal commercial and recreational trade in those countries. Wright (2007, p. 10) reported 34-81 tigers poached per year in India during 1998-2006. Poaching and killing tigers to protect livestock are also reported rangewide (Nowell and Jackson 1996, pp. 180-195).


Little is known about the nature or extent of disease in wild tiger populations. According to Nowell and Jackson (1996, p. 58), tiger mortality during the second year of life is 17 percent, while infanticide is overall the most common cause of cub death. Furthermore, Nowell and Jackson (1996, pp. 64-65) suggest that natural mortality is being replaced with mortality due to human activities.


Tigers can live up to about 15 years of age in the wild and up to 26 years of age in captivity (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 58). Habitat loss and reductions in the size of tiger prey populations increasingly are becoming significant determinants in tiger population sizes and geographic distribution. According to species experts, large tracts of contiguous habitat are essential to assure the survival of wild tigers on a long-term basis; small, isolated reserves cannot be relied upon to conserve the species (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 65).
Tigers readily breed in captivity and often are included in the exhibitions of larger zoos (Maz[aacute]k 1981, p. 6). The Leipzig Zoo has maintained the International Tiger Studbook since 1973 (M[uuml]ller 2004), while the AZA coordinates the Species Survival Plan Program (AZA 2008; Minnesota Zoo 2008). Species experts have recently proposed designs for landscape conservation efforts (Wikramanayake et al. 2004), as well as conservation and recovery priorities for wild tigers (Dinerstein et al. 2006; Sanderson et al. 2006).


There is a relatively large population of tigers in captivity. According to Werner (2005, p. 24), there are approximately 264 tigers in AZA-registered institutions in the United States, 1,179 in assorted wildlife sanctuaries, 2,120 in USDA-registered institutions, and 1,120 in private ownership (approximate U.S. total = 4,692 tigers).


An additional 5,000 tigers have been reported in captivity in China at sites popularly identified as tiger farms, with an annual production of 800 individuals (CITES 2007b, p. 4). The long-term status of these captive tigers, however, has been questioned by some as the Government of China is studying and assessing a suggestion to use the bones of captive specimens for domestic purposes in traditional Chinese medicine (CITES 2007c, p. 7; CITES 2007d, p. 7).


While domestic trade in tiger bone has been prohibited in China since 1993, traditional Chinese medicine–based in part on the use of tiger bones–continues (Shepherd and Magnus 2004; Nowell 2007; Ng and Nemora 2007). Fewer than 1,000 tigers occur in public zoos in Europe and Japan (Ron Tillson, cited by Morell 2007, p. 1312), while data for the quantity of tigers in private collections in Europe and Japan are not readily available.


The above was excerpted from a failed attempt by a backyard breeder to de-list the tiger as an Endangered Species.



Sustaining Donors

A Roar of Thanks

to These Sustaining Donors

Updated 12/31/13

Shere Khan Tiger 2014 May 2

Brigitte Ajluni

Susan Al-Abed

Peter Albini

Pamela & David Anderson

Christine Anderson

Emily Arnold

Art Glass Ensembles

Susan Ash

Nicole Babyak

Wendy Bain

Jenny Barker

Marvin & Ellen Barnes

Howard Baskin

Monique M Beatty

Matthew Beck

Nancy Bellamy

Susan M. Bemis

Bari Berger

Annarosa Berman

Elyssa Bernard

Melissa E Black

Linda Boder

Amy J Bown

Joyce Brady

Suzanne Bring

Kathleen A Brooks

Amy G Brown

Sara A. Brown

Donna M Brown

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