How Cub Petting Kills Wild Tigers

How Cub Petting Kills Wild Tigers

What is Killing Tiger Cubs?

 

 

It could be you!

Put an end to big cat abuse and the extinction of wild cats at BigCatBan.com

 

Crikey!  Tigers have been disappearing at alarming rates!

 

A hundred years ago there were 100,000 tigers living in Asia, but now there are fewer than 3,200!

 

I’ve been beating the bushes, talking to trackers, consulting with Interpol and I’ve figured out why tigers are disappearing in the wild.

 

It’s that ego driven, two legged, menace to the planet….MAN!  and woman, and child…

 

Yes, even children are killing tigers when they ask if they can touch one.

 

Whenever people pay to pet or pose with a tiger cub, they are killing tigers in the wild!

 

Here’s how it works:  Backyard breeders create hundreds of cubs to use for petting and pay to play schemes, but they can only use them for a few weeks.  Then they get too big and more cubs are bred.

 

Those cast off tigers end up as pets, at roadside zoos, and even in the black market.

 

They provide a legal cover for illegal poaching, so more and more tigers are killed in the wild.

 

It’s a frightful situation!  Tigers could completely disappear from the wild in your life time!

 

But it’s not too late:  You can put an end to the abuse at BigCatBan.com

 

Go there and check it out.  BigCatBan.com

 

I’m going to see if I can get an Internet connection out here and contact my lawmaker too.

 

Is it legal to sell tigers?

Is it legal to sell tigers?

When Darnell Docket,  a player for the Arizona Cardinals, became what we consider to be the poster child for over paid sports’ figures, behaving badly toward animals, by announcing that he had bought a tiger to show off at games, it caused a lot of people to ask the question, “Is it legal to buy a tiger?”

TigerNarakAfter spending the last 20 years rescuing lions, tigers and other exotic cats, I am left bewildered by the existing laws; or maybe, more precisely, by the lack of enforcement of existing laws.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that:

“Unless you are exempt under the Act, you cannot sell a cat to someone in another State. You may be able to make such a sale within your State, unless State or local laws prohibit such sales.”  Darnell is in Arizona, according to Commission Rule R12-4-402, it is unlawful to import restricted live wildlife (incl. tigers) into the state without a special permit or license from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Arizona does not issue permits to people to own tigers as pets.

The penalties for breaking the law are pretty clear:

“If you import or export a big cat or sell or buy a cat or cats worth more than $350 in interstate commerce, you have committed a felony. You could be sent to prison for up to five years and ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000. Fines for organizations can be as high as $500,000.”

The only parties who are exempt are USDA licensees, accredited sanctuaries that do not allow anyone to touch the animals, a state college, university or agency, a state licensed veterinarian or a state licensed rehabber.  We don’t think that Darnell Dockett qualifies for any of these exemptions.  So why is he bragging openly on Twitter that he has bought a tiger and that he intends to bring it to his games, rather than being arrested and fined?

Why hasn’t anyone investigated who the seller of this tiger was as well, since it would appear that they broke the law by selling a tiger to someone who does not appear to properly licensed?

 

Sources:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of Law Enforcement
4401 N. Fairfax Drive,
Mail Stop LE-3000
Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: (703) 358 1949
E-mail: lawenforcement@fws.gov

Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000
602-942-3000

USFWS Factsheet

USFWS Final Rule

Today at Big Cat Rescue Aug 1 2013 Shark Week Video

Today at Big Cat Rescue Aug 1 2013 Shark Week Video

Tigers vs Sharks

Today at Big Cat Rescue Aug 1 2013 Shark Week Video

 

China Hosts International Tiger Conference

bentiger

Unbeknownst to many, July 29 was the fourth annual International Tiger Day. In commemoration, representatives from the 13 countries where tigers still exist held a conference in Kunming to discuss protecting the largest cat species on earth.

The meeting, somewhat hilariously named the International Workshop for Transboundary Conservation of Tigers and Other Endangered Species, and the Strategy for Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife (IWTCTOESSCITW), was attended by representatives from state governments, non-governmental organizations and conservation groups.

A day before the conference began, China and Russia announced the establishment of two “ecological corridors” along their shared border. It is hoped the cross-border areas slated for protection will provide Siberian tigers more freedom to roam while lessening their chances of encountering humans.

The two countries will jointly fund and conduct environmental studies in a effort to find more effective policies regarding tiger conservation. China and Russia also agreed to increased cooperation on anti-poaching efforts and in combating the illegal wildlife trade.

China also came to several agreements with India at the meeting in Kunming. These also hinged predominately on eradicating the smuggling of endangered animals. Both parties agreed to share real-time information gathered by police and border agents concerning illegal animal trafficking.

Wild tigers are estimated to number between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals across Asia. This number is down from roughly 100,000 a century ago, largely due to poaching and habitat loss. Countries working to increase tiger populations have set a goal of doubling current numbers by the year 2022. Conversely, that is the same year the World Wildlife Federation has pegged for tiger extinction if global conservation measures are not drastically increased.

It was perhaps appropriate the symposium was held in Yunnan, as the province has a somewhat blemished track record when it comes to understanding and managing tigers. Just days before the preservation meeting in Kunming convened, news broke that the city’s Wild Animals Park was allowing paying customers, including infants, to pet and pose with tiger cubs. This is the same zoo that instituted a ‘tiger-fishing’ attraction in 2006 and where a boy of four was mauled by a tiger five years ago.

Also in 2008, a six year-old girl was killed by a tiger at the Kunming Zoo while she posed for photographs inside the animal’s cage. Violence between humans and tigers, however, is not a one-way street in Yunnan. A man in Xishuangbanna was sentenced to 12 years in prison after he shot and ate an endangered Indochinese tiger in 2010.

http://www.gokunming.com/en/blog/item/3022/china_hosts_international_tiger_conference

 

Big Cat Rescue is the Daily Cute

The Daily Cute Big Cats Love Boxes

 

 

USDA New Regs for Lion and Tiger Cages

 

USDA Animal Care Issues New Guidance to its Inspectors Regarding Lion/Tiger Enclosures

USDA’s Animal Care program has issued new guidance to its inspectors for evaluating the height of enclosures for lions and tigers at stationary facilities. This guidance is aimed at assuring that USDA inspections will be consistent when determining a facility’s compliance with the Animal Welfare Act regulations.

In light of several escapes that have occurred over the past few years, Animal Care evaluated fence heights and configurations at all USDA-licensed facilities that have lions and tigers. These evaluations build upon Animal Care’s 40+ years of experience inspecting facilities that house potentially dangerous animals and the program’s deep understanding of each species’ physical capabilities.

Animal Care is the federal unit that enforces the Animal Welfare Act. This Act sets standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for warm-blooded animals that are: exhibited to the public; bred for commercial sale; used in biomedical research; or transported commercially. Individuals/entities that operate facilities using animals in these ways are required to provide their animals with adequate housing, sanitation, nutrition, water and veterinary care, and they must protect the animals from extreme weather and temperatures. When potentially dangerous animals are exhibited to the public for compensation, the federal regulations require that USDA-licensed exhibitors ensure the safety of their animals and protect the viewing public from any contact with the animals.

At Animal Care, ensuring the welfare of the animals we regulate is at the heart of everything we do.

 

 

Lion and Tiger Enclosure Heights and Kick-ins Inspection Guidance

 

Animal Care Inspection Guide Specific Types of Inspections
Lion and TigerEnclosure Heights and Kick-insInspection

This document provides guidance for assessing the height of Lion and Tiger enclosures (this includes liger enclosures) under commonly found circumstances at stationary facilities for purposes of primary containment. It does not provide guidance for assessing the structural integrity or other factors related to housing facilities.

This guidance is a distillation of a well-established interpretation of the AWA regulations and standards. Section 3.125(a) provides that indoor and outdoor housing facilities must be structurally sound and maintained in good repair to protect the animals from injury and to contain the animals. For Lions and Tigers and many other animals, this primary containment system must be backed up by a secondary containment system (a perimeter fence) in most outdoor housing facilities to further ensure the safety and well-being of the animals.

The following guidelines are to be used by all Inspectors and Compliance Specialists to assure uniform implementation. These guidelines are based on Animal Care’s experience of more than 40 years with inspecting licensees and registrants that house potentially dangerous animals, like Lions and Tigers, and recent events that highlight instances where animals have escaped, as well as specific species’ and animals’ capabilities.

Despite our best evaluation of what will contain an animal, there may still be an escape. If an animal escapes from an enclosure, that enclosure will have to be modified to be considered to be in compliance, regardless of the previous determination.

Complete a checklist in ACIS documenting the safety of Lion and Tiger enclosures for each facility with Lions and Tigers. All citations must refer back to the language of the regulations there are no engineering standards.

Fencing recommendations regarding the fence height and enhancing structural components like kick-ins and high-tensile smooth electric wire appropriate for the species will be divided into three categories:

1. under review

2. compliant requiring no further action

3. non-compliant prompting a citation.

 

Under Review:

This category should be evaluated first to determine if there are any special circumstances associated with animals and/or enclosures that would prevent an enclosure from being considered as “Compliant Requiring No Further Action” or “Non-compliant Prompting a Citation.” Some examples of circumstances that would prompt placing an enclosure in the “Under Review” category are listed below (NOTE: this is not an all-inclusive list). For these enclosures, photos and measurements should be submitted to the Big Cat Field Specialist and SACS for review through the use of the “Checklist for Documenting the Safety of Lion and Tiger Enclosures Fencing Height” sheet in ACIS. The Big Cat Field Specialist and SACS will work together to develop a recommendation. If there are no special circumstances, then the enclosure should be assessed to determine if it is “Compliant Requiring No Further Action” or “Non-compliant Prompting a Citation.”

Do not cite or note enclosures that are under review on an inspection report.

Examples of enclosures that an inspector could send for review include:

? Enclosure fence 14 feet in height with a kick-in of 2 feet;

? Fencing a minimum of 12 feet in height with a species-appropriate high-tensile, smooth electric wire;

? An enclosure fence 14 feet in height with a line of electric wire along the top

? An enclosure fence 12 feet in height with a 2 foot kick-in and an impregnable perimeter fence at a facility the public does not visit;

? An enclosure fence of 10 feet with 3 feet or greater kick-ins where animals have lived without incident for over 4 years;

? An enclosure containing a Lion and Tiger that has physical limitations (old/fat/disabled/blind) that may be adequately contained in an enclosure that does not meet the guidance for clearly compliant enclosures;

? An enclosure with trees or enclosure furniture that may be too close to the fence.

The inspector should consult with the licensee on an appropriate identifier for each enclosure. The identifier may be the: name of the animal in the enclosure; location of the enclosure on the premises; enclosure number, etc. This identifier will be used with the corresponding photos in completing the “Checklist for Documenting the Safety of Lion and Tiger Enclosures Fencing Height” sheet in ACIS and in the subsequent letter from the regional office.
Compliant requiring No Further Action
Some structures would be considered compliant for meeting the performance-based standards of §3.125(a) absent special circumstances, based on the known physical and behavioral characteristics of Lion and Tiger species and the configuration of the enclosure. Some examples of structures include but are not limited to:

? Fencing a minimum of 12 feet in height with a 3 foot angled kick-in;

? Fencing a minimum of 16 feet in height;

? Fencing 8 feet in height with a completely covered top (Note: All enclosures with a completely covered top must allow for normal and typical behaviors and postures.);

? A dry moat that is 25 feet wide or greater and at least 16 feet deep if both sides are at the same level and there are no deterrents at either side;

? A moat that is at least 20 feet wide if the exhibit side is at least 5 feet or more lower than the public side;

? A wet moat that is at least 20 feet wide with water at least 5 feet deep at all times with another 5 foot wall extending beyond the water level.

Non-compliant prompting a Citation

? Enclosure fencing that is insufficient to contain the animals housed therein.

Completing the Checklist
The inspector will be prompted to review and document the status of the lion/tiger enclosures before finalizing in ACIS your initial inspection on facilities that list Lions and/or Tigers in the inventory. The 3 possible responses are:

? All species specific enclosures are in compliance
• This completes the checklist and you are taken to the report to review and finalize.

? All species specific enclosures are not in compliance, no help needed.
• Use this option if there is a combination of compliant and non-compliant enclosures.

• This completes the checklist and you are taken to the report to review and finalize.

? One or more species specific enclosures are unsure, and help is requested.
• Use this option if there is a combination of compliant and non-compliant enclosures in which one or more is unsure and help is needed.
• Complete the specialist review form, where you will provide:

? Location Name: Use the enclosure identifier determined by you and the licensee.

? Location Description: Describe the animals contained in the enclosure; the height of the fencing; the materials used for the fencing; the approximate dimensions of the enclosure.

? Location Comments: Add any comments or recommendations to the Big Cat Specialist/RO.

• Link the photos of the enclosures you uploaded to the inspection report to each enclosure description. Photos must include:

? Something that provides a reference for the scale of the fencing height; Be sure to get the entire fence from top to bottom in the photograph;

? The kick-ins with a side view as much as safely possible;

? Trees or cage furnishings that may be too close to the fence. Try to include two views from different sides.

Field Specialist Review
The Big Cat Field Specialist will enter into ACIS a written assessment of the suitability of the enclosure(s)to contain the animals being housed in them. The appropriate personnel will prepare the review response letter for the Regional Director or Assistant Regional Director signature. The review response letter will contain for each reviewed enclosure: the decision regarding each enclosure; a correction deadline, if necessary, and other relevant needed information.

The letter will be mailed to the facility. A copy of the final letter will be maintained in the customer files in ACIS and a copy of the letter emailed to the SACS, inspector and Big Cat Field Specialist.
Subsequent Inspections of Reviewed Enclosures
At the next inspection of a facility placed under review, you will receive a prompt to review and document the status of the enclosures that were not in compliance or were found to be compliant based on specific current conditions during the previous inspection.
Additional review of the enclosure is dependent on the following criteria:

? Enclosures found not in compliance, current status?
• In compliance;

? You will receive no further prompts on subsequent inspections.
• Time still remaining;

? You will be asked to review the enclosure at the next inspection.
• If not in compliance, select the applicable NCI(s) for this enclosure.

? Enclosures found in compliance based on specific current conditions; are these conditions still true for these enclosures?
• If the conditions still true;

? You will continue to finalize the report, and will be asked to review the enclosure at the next inspection.
• If the enclosure is in compliance now;

? The process ends, and you will receive no further prompts on subsequent inspections.
• If not in compliance, you will be asked to select the appropriate NCI(s) on the inspection report citing this enclosure’s non-compliance.

Cat Chat Show Notes July 31 2013

Cat Chat Show Notes July 31 2013

Cat Chat Show 14

 

 

 

Tiger-Bengali-Pond

1.  The most exciting news is that our Senate bill S 1381 was introduced by Senator Blumental yesterday.  It  is the companion bill for the House version HR 1998 of the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.

This bill would ban the private possession of big cats.

It would ban public contact with the big cats and their cubs.

It would grandfather in existing cat owners, but they can’t buy or breed more.

  People can send a quick and easy letter to both the House and Senate here:  http://catlaws.com  2.  Darnell Dockett just bought a tiger cub and wants to take it to his games as an attention getter. 2003 Law says you can’t sell or transport tigers across state lines to a non USDA facility, so does Darnell have a USDA license?

Who sold him the cub?

You aren’t supposed to exhibit, like showing off at a game, without a USDA license.

We turned him in to both USDA and USFWS.

USFWS said they will be posting the final rule on generic tigers soon.

Sample letter to send to the Arizona Cardinals and USDA here: http://catlaws.com  3.  Bengali the Tiger cut the ribbon (ducked under it actually) for the grand opening of the Vacation Rotation enclosure.  The event was attended by some of the larger donors to the project and Fox 13, ABC News, Bay News 9 and the St. Pete Times.  They may have syndicated it out to other stations.

BengaliCoverCat

Press-Vacation-Rotation-BayNews9-2013-07-30 at 1.19.44 PM

ABC also had a brief story, link below.

And CBS had a story online, link below. So all 5 news stations did something about the VR. 🙂 http://www.wfla.com/video?clipId=9147963&autostart=true    http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_north_hillsborough/big-cat-rescue-near-citrus-park-mall-opens-new-space-for-exotic-animals   http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=327662

See more photos here: http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-25-2013-vacation-rotation/ https://www.dropbox.com/lightbox/home/Vacation%20Rotation http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-30-2013-grand-opening/

Flavio, the world’s oldest tiger will go out in 2 weeks when his tunnel is done.

4.  Hamburger Mary’s Drag Queen Bingo was last night and raised $2,157.00 in two hours.  Daphne was the Drag Queen and everyone had a great time.  The 50/50 raffle winner won $521.00, 10 Bingo winners won the great cat baskets, 4 raffle winners won plushy wildcats and Frontflip players won bandanas and tickets! Getting photos from Howie. Reminder that you can use the free FrontFlip app to play daily on both Facebook and Google + to win an iPad mini and other great prizes.

5.  Thank Sam Simon http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-27-2013-sam-simon/

6.  Angie the bobcat goes in for dental work  http://bigcatrescue.org/today-at-big-cat-rescue-july-29-2013/

7.  Technology Serving Cats.  Every day our vet staff are in constant contact via our iPhones and iPads.  Today Gale asked if this cat looks too fat and needs to be put on a diet.

Serval-Nairobi-too-fat

Gale also keeps me posted as things are done around the sanctuary; like Interns installing a water bowl for a cat who was found to be drinking a lot more, due to camera traps that Jamie set around her enclosure.  Rose the Caracal is 16 and probably in renal failure.  She is going in to the vet’s office today for blood work.

Interns-install-water-bowl

8.  Too late for last week’s Cat Chat, but the Iberian Lynx is expected to die out in the next 50 years due to climate change.  http://bigcatrescue.org/cat-chat-show-notes-july-24-2013/

IberianLynxSpain

9.  These earrings I am wearing aren’t available online yet, but you can email Honey@BigCatRescue.org to buy them.  They are $15.00 plus shipping and handling.  I am wearing Raindance the bobcat, but we also have Nirvana the ocelot, Joseph the lion and others.  They come in both silver and copper.

Earrings-Raindance-Bobcat

10.  Photos in oil paint filters on Facebook Thurston the bobcat oil painting

11.  Just refer guests to this Forty eight minute video, starts out with Amanda the tiger being pretty scary: http://youtu.be/gjrwRtxJqaE Or, you could play the first few minutes to see that.  She had been locked up while we were building her and her brothers a platform and was not happy about being kept out of the action.

Too late for the show:

“THE CON IN CONSERVATION?”

Part Two

A SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT INVESTIGATION

This week’s episode of Special Assignment – focuses on the lion bone trade which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years.  Many people know about how the rhino is being poached for its horn, which is used in traditional medicines in Asia, but few know that lion bones are also being used as a replacement for tiger bones in tiger bone wine in Asia, since the tiger numbers have plummeted so drastically.  There are concerns that the trade, which is now just a by-product of the hunt, will eventually spill over into wild lion populations.

This is a follow-up to Part One of this series in which we revealed that canned hunting is still taking place in South Africa, despite the perception by many South Africans, that it had been stopped years ago.  We also investigated the so-called “green con”, where volunteers are paying exorbitant amounts to come to South Africa to hand raise lion cubs under the impression that they are doing it for conservation, showing that often it is just a money making scheme.  This episode showed lions that have been rescued from bad situations and analysed how being bred in captivity can impact on the welfare of these iconic African animals. Many conservationists feel that the captive bred and wild lion is not protected by the law and that there are many holes in the permitting system for the breeding and hunting of lion.  They say the country needs to have standardised regulations across all provinces. This series interrogates the regulatory framework as far as this industry is concerned.

Is the Lion in danger of becoming extinct?  Some experts say that in twenty years the wild lion population has dropped by 80-percent.  Today, only two-thousand-eight-hundred lions are left in the wild in South Africa.  However, the lion is only listed as vulnerable and not endangered, which affords them less protection.  We also ask, does the captive breeding of lions have any conservation value?

THE CON IN CONSERVATION?” – Part Two, is produced by Richelle Seton-Rogers and will be aired on Thursday the 01st of AUGUST 2013 on Special Assignment – broadcast on SABC 3 at 21:30PM.

Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO www.cannedlion.org Co-authors of: Kalahari Dream www.kalahari-dream.com For the love of Wildlife www.fortheloveofwildlife.com

Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-1 Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-2 Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-3 Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-4 Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-5 Hamburger-Marys-Drag-Queen-Bingo-6
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Why White Tigers Should Go Extinct

Everything you’ve been told about this exotic, royal, endangered species is wrong.

By |Posted Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, at 11:04 AM

white tiger

A white tiger is a striking creature. Tigers are always impressive animals, but when you take away the orange, the result is a big cat that looks like a phantom out of a dream. They seem almost magical, and yet I firmly believe that the world would be a better place if there was not a single white tiger in it.

 

There are only about 4,000 tigers, at most, remaining in the wild. Yet there are probably tens of thousands of captive tigers around the world (there is no official census). This would appear to make a compelling case for the existence of zoos and private collections. If tigers can survive and breed well in captivity, then perhaps more can be introduced to the wild when safe habitat becomes available. Yet that system isn’t working the way we think it does. A huge number of the captive tigers are hybrids of various subspecies and are so inbred that they will never be suitable for reintroduction to the wild. No tigers are more emblematic of this problem than white tigers.

 

I recently asked friends on Facebook to write down their thoughts about white tigers without searching for any new information. Some very intelligent people were under the impression that white tigers are a variety of Siberian tiger, camouflaged for a snowy climate. Others applauded zoos with white tigers for supporting conservation of white tigers while lamenting a lag in reintroduction efforts. Only one out of 27 respondents knew that white tigers are not a subspecies at all but rather the result of a mutant gene that has been artificially selected through massive inbreeding to produce oddball animals for human entertainment.

 

This level of misinformation should not come as a surprise. Many of the venues that display white tigers have a long history of shading the truth about their mutants. The Cincinnati Zoo, an otherwise respectable institution, labels their white tigers as a “species at risk!” Nowhere on the zoo’s website or at its tiger enclosures does it point out that this species at risk is in fact an ecologically useless hybrid of Bengal and Siberian strains, inbred at the zoo’s own facility for big money. The Cincinnati Zoo repeatedly bred closely related animals over the past few decades to produce more of the white tigers, which they sold for around $60,000 each.

 

One of the Cincinnati Zoo’s biggest sales was to the illusionists Siegfried and Roy. The Vegas duo bought three white tigers from the zoo in the early 1980s (along with stock from other sources) and quickly set up their own breeding program. Incorporating the white tigers into their act, Siegfried and Roy introduced the breed to millions of Americans. They referred to the cats as “royal white tigers” and, out of what was probably a good intention, gave the public the impression that this was an endangered species that they were helping to protect. Their famous Las Vegas show ended in 2003 when Roy Horn was mauled on stage in front of a horrified audience by one of his own white tigers. To date, Siegfried and Roy continue to claim on their website that their white tiger breeding program is part of a conservation effort aimed at saving “an endangered species.”

 

White tigers are white because they have two copies of an extremely rare recessive gene found in Bengal tigers (the gene has never been seen among pure Siberians or other subspecies). A very few white tigers were seen in the wild in the early 20th century. On the face of it, being a white object in the Bengal tigers’ tropical habitat of India and Southeast Asia can’t be good for a predator that needs to be camouflaged.

 

Other, more subtle problems that go along with the white coat would also prevent white tigers from ever becoming established as a wild population. The mutation (which is not albinism—white tigers can still produce melanin) also causes serious defects. White tigers in captivity tend to have problems with the way that their brains control their eyes and process visual stimulation. The animals are often cross-eyed in one or both eyes, bump into objects, and have trouble understanding spatial relationships when they are young. Animals with defects like these couldn’t survive for long in the wild, even though they have long lives in captivity. Other disorders, such as kidney problems, club feet, and shortened tendons, come from the severe inbreeding required to keep this recessive gene around.

 

Not all of the cubs produced in white tiger breeding schemes are white. Inbred, hybridized tiger cubs with an assortment of health problems aren’t good for much of anything except roadside attractions. Some are kept in hopes that they carry a copy of the white tiger gene that could be expressed in offspring. Carole Baskin, director of Big Cat Rescue, has taken in some breeding-project duds, including a cross-eyed white tiger born without an upper lip.

 

Every white tiger in a zoo is occupying an enclosure and a budget for food and veterinary care that could be used as part of a legitimate breeding program to protect the genetic diversity of endangered subspecies of tigers. There are fewer than 700 Sumatran tigers left on the planet, in captivity or in the wild. The Siberian tiger numbers no more than 1,000, at best. The survival of both subspecies is in jeopardy due to both habitat loss and a looming genetic bottleneck. We could safeguard the genetic diversity of both types of tigers with the cooperation of zoos and perhaps maintain them in captivity until the political issues that threaten their habitat can be alleviated. Some zoos, such as the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the Minnesota Zoo, do this now as part of a broad species-protection plan. But every zoo that devotes an enclosure to white tigers under the cover of a lie about conservation represents one more place where a legitimately endangered tiger could be kept.

 

In 2011, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums banned member zoos from breeding white tigers, lions, and cheetahs (PDF). This ban should prevent top-tier zoos from continuing to breed white tigers, and the Cincinnati Zoo has recently stopped selling white tigers. But it doesn’t prevent member zoos from continuing to display the animals. And as long as there is demand, those top-tier zoos may still obtain white tigers from other sources. Meanwhile, the white-washing of white tigers by major institutions helps maintain not only ticket revenue from a misled public but also misguided support for the rescue of a nonexistent endangered species.

 

As William Conway, former director of the New York Zoological Association put it many years ago, “White tigers are freaks. It’s not the role of a zoo to show two headed calves and white tigers.”

 

A white tiger that has already been born does not have a vote in the matter and cannot apologize for existing. Humanity has a collective responsibility to care for the two-headed calves and white tigers that we create for our own entertainment, but do we really need to be creating more of the genetic disasters that pull resources away from truly endangered species? There is no good reason to breed another white tiger. We can choose to keep every remaining white tiger in comfortable isolation. Tigers are solitary in the wild (unlike lions, which are social animals that normally live in prides). They do not need the company of other tigers in order to lead happy lives either in the wild or in captivity. We can choose a future in which white tigers disappear into memory and hopefully one in which truly endangered subspecies of tigers maintain enough genetic diversity to be successfully reintroduced into a wild that can sustain them.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/12/white_tiger_controversy_zoos_shouldn_t_raise_these_inbred_ecologically_irrelevant.html