Rare tiger cub found in China dies of malnutrition
By CARA ANNA (AP) – 3.2.2010
BEIJING — A rare Siberian tiger discovered near the Russian border seemed an auspicious beginning to China’s Year of the Tiger, but within days, the emaciated cub had died of malnutrition.
The cub, believed to be about 1 year old, was already in poor shape just after it was found on Feb. 26 trapped in a fence, a security official with the forestry bureau in the northern province of Heilongjiang said Tuesday.
“It lay on the ground and looked so weak. We’ve had heavy snow these days, and it must have been starving,” said the official, who would only give his family name, Zhang.
Siberian tigers are one of the world’s rarest species, with just 300 believed remaining in the wild. In China, killing one of the big cats is punishable by death.
According to the Heilongjiang News, a forestry official named Han Deyou heard his dog barking and found the cub trapped between the metal bars of a fence in his backyard. The discovery came just days into the Chinese Lunar New Year — the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac.
The rescue effort took about 20 hours, and the female cub was fed two chickens and some beef while waiting. She had no apparent injuries.
But, in a report Tuesday, the newspaper said the cub died two days later.
“It was malnourished, and it had heart failure,” Sun Haiyi, an official with the Heilongjiang wild animal research center, told the newspaper.
A 1-year-old tiger should weigh about 110 pounds (50 kilograms), but the cub weighed less than 66 pounds (30 kilograms), Sun said.
Telephones at the research center rang unanswered Tuesday evening.
The death comes as new efforts are under way to bolster the world’s tiger population.
The 13 remaining countries with tiger populations are planning a first-ever tiger summit in September in Russia with the help of the Global Tiger Initiative, a coalition formed in 2008 by the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institute and nearly 40 conservation groups. It aims to double tiger numbers by 2020.
The World Wildlife Fund has warned that tigers become extinct in China in the next 30 years.
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.