By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

Will it be possible to see roaring Siberian tigers here again? South Korea has resumed a breeding project for endangered Siberian tigers, which had widely inhabited the Korean peninsula until the early 1900s. The Korea National Arboretum (KNA) and the nation’s largest zoo, Seoul Zoo, formed a partnership Thursday for the project. As a first step, an eight-year-old male Siberian tiger was transferred from the KNA to the zoo, which has 11 healthy female tigresses. The male tiger Duman is named after a river between North Korea and China, and will be exposed to the females one by one.KNA Director General Kim Yonh-ha said, “We will do our best to raise the numbers of the endangered species.” Donated by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Duman arrived here along with a female Siberian tiger, Amnok, on the President’s trip to Seoul in November 2005. A month after arrival, the two successfully bred, raising hopes for the birth of a Siberian tiger cub here. At that time, experts were sure of a successful delivery because Amnok had alredy given birth several times. But the female abruptly died of heart disease three months into the pregnancy. Her preserved body is now on display at KNA headquarters in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province. The nation’s first attempt to breed a Siberian tiger was made 15 years ago. In 1994, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin donated a breeding pair of Siberian tigers to celebrate the establishment of South Korea-China diplomatic ties. Despite many efforts, they failed and are now too old. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, approximately 330-370 adult Siberian tigers are left in the wild, with 95 percent of these animals in the Russian Far East.

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