Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sumatran Tigers

Remember when I told you about the Siberian Tiger, which is the largest tiger that still exists in the world? Well, the Sumatran Tiger is the smallest.  And the reason I decided to write about this tiger is because there are two of them living right here in Kansas City, at the zoo.  Mom took a picture of one when she was there, but the other one was busy taking a nap, so Mom couldn't really get a picture of that one.

But the one she did take a picture of was chewing up a cardboard box.  This is exactly the kind of thing a dog might do, so maybe this tiger is part dog.  Anyway, I think the tiger likes to chew up boxes because it's something entertaining to do while spending time locked up in the zoo.

So now I will tell you about Sumatran Tigers, which come from the island of Sumatra, which is part of Indonesia.  Here's a map, just in case you don't remember exactly where Sumatra is, and the red spots show where the tigers live.  Scientists have tested the DNA of the Sumatran Tiger, and they figured out that this kind of tiger has been on the island for a long, long, time, because the seas rose and cut off the islands from the mainland.  So the Sumatran Tiger is different from all other tigers, including being smaller and having narrower stripes and having more of a beard and mane.

The Sumatran Tiger can swim really fast because it has webbing between its toes.  Sometimes it hunts by driving a hoofed animal into the water and then catching it because it can swim faster than its prey.  Sumatran Tigers like to eat stuff like wild boar, Malayan tapir, and deer.  But sometimes they also eat monkeys, fish, or birds.

There are only about 400 or 500 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild.  Some of them live in game reserves or in a national park, but others live in areas that are not protected.  A lot of forests are cut down in Sumatra because of people making palm oil, and this is not good for the tigers, who like to live in the forests.  And even the tigers that live in the game reserves are not really safe because poachers might kill them.  All of which means that the Sumatran Tiger is CRITICALLY ENDANGERED.

A bunch of people are working on trying to save the Sumatran Tiger by breeding them in zoos and then teaching them to live in the wild again.  I hope they are able to save these tigers, but I'm afraid it might take a really long time!

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