Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Sad Siberian Tigers

Well, here it is the Year of the Tiger, but the Siberian Tigers don't feel much like celebrating.  And the reason why they don't is because they are ENDANGERED, which means there aren't very many of them left anywhere in the world.  So even if they wanted to get together and have a party to celebrate the Year of the Tiger, it would have to be kind of a small, sad party, and who wants to go to a small, sad party?

Nobody knows exactly how many Siberian tigers are left in the wild, but there are probably about 300,  and 50 of those are in China.  There are a bunch more Siberian tigers in zoos and wildlife parks and on farms, but some of them don't have very nice lives.

Last week I read in the newspaper that 11 Siberian tigers had died during the last 3 months in a northeast province of China, and the reason they died was because they starved to death.  What happened was that the Chinese bred more tigers than they could afford to take care of, so at this one place called Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, they were only feeding the tigers chicken bones.  I think a diet of chicken bones would be pretty yummy, but it's not enough for tigers to live on because tigers are really big, and they need like 20 pounds of meat a day.

The people in charge of the zoo said the tigers did not starve.  They said the tigers got some diseases, and also that the winter was really, really cold this year, and that is how the tigers died.  But the people who investigated this situation said that the tigers had to live in little cages and didn't get much to eat, and that is why they were stressed and got sick and died.

Last November two tigers got so hungry that they attacked a man who was working at the zoo, even though Siberian tigers don't usually eat people, like Bengal tigers do.  The tigers hurt the man, but he got rescued before they could kill him.  And a couple of years ago, four tigers killed another tiger so they could eat it.

You may be wondering why the Chinese have been breeding so many Siberian tigers if they cannot afford to take care of them, and the answer is that they are probably selling the tigers at someplace called a black market.  And the reason people want to buy tigers at this market, even though it is illegal, is because tiger parts are supposed to have important powers like being able to heal you if you are sick or making you better at having sex.

Anyway, now I will just tell you some interesting facts about Siberian tigers, starting with the fact that they are the biggest of all the tigers that are extant.  Extant means the opposite of extinct, and it's a fine word that my friend Zest told me about.  So this makes Siberian tigers the biggest cats in the whole world.  Some of them can weigh 660 pounds, which is a lot!  When there used to be more than just 300 wild Siberian tigers, they lived all over the western and central parts of Asia and also eastern Russia.  But now they are just in the most eastern part of Siberia.

These tigers like to eat things like wild boars and deer and gazelles and sheep and cattle and dogs (!!!!).  It all kind of depends on what time of year it is and what they can catch.  Also they eat wild horses and Manchurian wapiti and moose and fish and Asian black bears and Ussuri brown bears.  So you can kind of see why a diet of chicken bones would not make a tiger happy or healthy.

A long time ago, there were tons of these tigers living in the wild, but then they got killed off by people, especially during the Russian Civil War.  And also there was a lot of hunting of the tigers, plus their habitat got destroyed.  So that's why the tigers ended up being so endangered.

But now it's illegal to kill Siberian tigers, and also there's this Siberian Tiger Project that started in 1992.  And this project has helped the tigers stay extant because it kept people from poaching tigers and cutting down all the forests and stuff like that which is bad for tigers.

And besides that, there are several hundred Siberian tigers in captivity that are part of the Species Survival Plan.  These tigers have been making lots of tiger cubs, and this is good because it makes the tiger population get bigger.

So that's the story of the sad Siberian tigers.  Maybe by the time the next Year of the Tiger comes around, there will be a whole bunch more of them, and they will have plenty of nice, fat boars to eat instead of just chicken bones.


  1. I hope that they will do something about that. Tigers are great animals, especially Siberian tigers, which are also the largest species of cats in world.It would be a shamed to disappear.