Siberian tigers starve to death at Chinese zoo

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Siberian tigers starve to death at Chinese zoo

March 11, 2010

The Year of the Tiger has got off to a tragic start for the endangered big cat in China.

At least 11 Siberian tigers starved to death in a zoo in northeastern China after its owners ran out of money and fed the predators just one or two chicken carcasses a day over the past few weeks.

Six of the tigers died recently on a single day at the privately owned Iceberg Animal Zoo in Shenyang, the Liaoshen Evening News reported.

The animals had been confined in small, wet cages, it said.

It is not the first time the zoo has been in the news for leaving its tigers to go hungry.

Two tigers at the zoo were shot by police in November last year after the hungry animals mauled a zoo worker as he was clearing snow from a path. One newspaper reported at the time that the tigers being starving.

In late 2007, wildlife experts were shocked when four tigers at the zoo killed and devoured another tiger with which they had shared their living quarters for five years.

A zoo official said: “The zoo is in a financial crisis and we haven’t been able to provide the tigers with sufficient food for the last two years. An adult tiger eats about 20lb of meat a day, but the tigers here can barely get a chicken to quench their hunger every one or two days.”

The tragedy comes just days after a wild tiger cub – the first to be seen in China for at least 60 years – was found trapped in a forestry worker’s woodpile in a neighbouring province to the north. The cub was tranquillised and captured but died two days later.

Only about 20 of rare endangered Siberian, or Amur, tigers are believed to survive in the wild along China’s border with Russia. The South China tiger is believed to be close to extinct.

About 5,000 tigers live on farms in northeastern China and in the southwest where they are bred in the hope that a ban on trade in tiger parts may one day be lifted, unleashing demand among Chinese for bones for use in traditional medicine and aphrodisiac tonics.

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