THE PLAYFUL PREDATOR

 

Kingdom:

 

Phylum: 

 

Class:   

 

Order:  

 

Suborder: 

 

Family: 

 

Subfamily: 

 

Genus: 

Species:

 

                                          Subspecies             

 

Panthera tigris altaica

Siberian or Amur Tiger

Southeast Russia/China

 

Panthera tigris tigris

India

 

 

Panthera tigris amoyensis

Southern China

 

 

Panthera tigris corbetti

Indochina

 

 

Panthera tigris sumatrae

Sumatran Tiger

Sumatra

 

 

Animalia

 

Chordata

 

Mammalia

 

Carnivora

 

Aeluroidea

 

Felidae

 

Panthernae

 

Panthera

Tigris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extinct Subspecies:

 

Panthera tigris balica

Bali (extinct 1937)

Panthera tigris sondaica

Java (extinct 1972)

Panthera tigris virgata

Caspia (extinct 1950's)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

 


What is the difference between these two cute cubs besides their color?!

Life or Death

The Story of Sasha & Sergei

This is a classic tale of two hybrid Siberian  tiger cubs born in captivity. They were both bred to be white tigers, because that is what is popular these days and worth a lot of money. Unfortunately, nature ultimately still decides what color it will assign to a new-born tiger no matter what the human intentions are. In nature a white tiger has no chances of survival because the natural yellow and brown stripes serve as camouflage while stalking their prey on the hunting trail. White tigers would stick out like a sore thumb and the hunted would be quickly alerted and easily escape these ill-fated predators.

It is a common misconception that white tigers are found affluently in the wild. White tigers in zoos are there because they were purposely bred that way and because people are mesmerized by the combination of the beautiful color of the tiger's coat and the contrasting blue eyes. 

In the wild, white tigers are most common in the Bengal tiger breed, the last one believed to have been sited in India in 1951!!!!!! They are rare but to call them endangered is a big mistake, since it is not natural nor beneficial for them to occur in the wild!!!  Only about 12 Bengal white tigers have been spotted in the wild in the last 100 years in India. In contrast, in zoos, most white tigers are usually a Bengal/Siberian hybrid which, of course, is also not natural.

White tigers are NOT albinos. The white color of their coat is caused by a recessive gene. Tigers have genes, genes exist of two parts, called alleles. The cubs each get one allele from the father and one from the mother. In order for the cub to come out white, it needs both alleles to be recessive. It does not happen very often really. For example, if the cub gets two orange coded alleles it will be orange, if it gets only one orange coded allele and one white coded (recessive) allele, the cub still comes out orange. So you can imagine that most cubs turn out orange. The fact that one parent is white or carries a recessive allele for the white color makes not difference: Chances are the cubs come out orange anyway. 

For breeders to be more successful and to increase the chances for a white tiger cub, a lot of inbreeding takes place. This means that parent is bred to offspring, sibling to sibling, etc. This continued inbreeding, as with all animals that are inbred, causes deformities like hip and back problems, crossed eyes and gross physical deformities that can cause needless suffering to these beautiful animals.

In reality, not only does the breeding of white tigers compound the problem by giving the general public a completely incorrect image of these powerful wild predators, in addition it has caused a giant surplus of regular golden colored tigers in the private sector across the world. Out of a litter of cubs, the breeders will pick the white cubs that bring in a lot more money on the market and euthanize, inhumanely destroy or neglect the cubs that do not meet the color requirement. 

So, this is what happened to Sergei and Sasha, the two Siberian tiger cubs currently residing at Wildlife Survival. A breeder gave the cubs to a private owner because they had no monetary value. Owning two Siberian tigers that can grow to be anywhere between 400 - 800 lbs. is a very costly affair, and private ownership of these Class I cats, the biggest cat in the world, is just not realistic. These animals are not suited for private ownership, they are wild animals and extremely powerful. In this case, the cubs were lucky enough to end up in the hands of a caring and responsible person that was willing to search for a permanent, more suitable, home for them and persisted in her quest.

 


PANTHERA TIGRIS

In the Buddhist religion, followers of the Buddha ride tigers showing off their supernatural ability to overcome evil.  The Hindu God Shiva also rides a tiger wearing a tiger skin in his role as the destroyer. There are many different religions in Asia and India that worship the tiger, always symbolized by strength and power.  On the island of Sumatra, the Islamic people believe that tigers are sent by Allah to punish sinners.

No matter what religious beliefs you have or what cultural background, once you see a tiger, you will understand why temples and shrines were built to worship these magnificent animals. There are only 5 subspecies alive in the wild today and the numbers are dwindling. 

 

THE SIBERIAN

Panthera tigris altaica


The Siberian, Manchurian or Amur tiger is the largest of all cats, weighing up to 800 lbs. in the wild, a fearless predator and often referred to as a "man-eater". Of all the cats, the tiger seems the most playful of them all, especially around water. Who ever said cats do not like water? Forget about that with this carnivore: Show him water and he will be sure to take the plunge.

Status: Critically Endangered (500 left in the wild)

Region: Amur-Ussuri region of Siberia in Russia; North China and Korea

Length: 9-12 feet for males; 7 - 11 for females

Weigth: 220 - 800 lbs (found in the wild at 1000 lbs/male)

Life Span: In the wild: 10 years; In Captivity: 15-20 years.

Diet: Needs at least 20 lbs a day of meat to survive in the wild. However he can eat up to 100 lbs in one meal. Diet consists of deer, wild boar, occasionally fish.

A Siberian tiger can move a prey so large that it would take more than 10 grown men to move it. The success rate for the hunt is usually 1 in 10. The tiger will creep up to its prey and then pounce on it. If anything is left of the carcass, the tiger will bury it and eat from it the next day.

This is a solitary animal that only comes together in mating season or when a female is raising her cubs. A males territory can span up to 400 square miles. A female reaches sexual maturity at about 3 years of age, she will mate and give birth once every 2-3 years over a 12 year period. The gestation period is about 103 days and the litter size is usually 2-3 cubs, blind and helpless weighing only about 2/3 pounds. They can hunt and kill their own prey at 2 years old but will stay with the tigress until they are in between 3 and 5 years old before establishing their own territory.

Threats to the Siberian tiger are: Poaching, disappearing forests and habitats by deforestation, bad weather conditions that cause their prey not to be able to find food which in turn causes scarcity in the tiger's food supply. Other carnivores such as the brown bear will steal their food right out from under them.


THE BENGAL

Panthera tigris tigris


 

Our beloved Benji was an 18 year old Bengal tiger. Our newest tiger, Misty is also a Bengal Tiger.  Circus people are often quoted as saying that Bengal tigers are more intelligent than the Siberians and that the they are much more likely to take a chance and attack a man than a Siberian. Bengal's are smaller than Siberians but certainly just as powerful as its larger counterpart. Studies are underway to find out why some of these predators become man-eaters.

The Bengal is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger or Indian Tiger. They can be found in the mangrove forests in parts of  India,  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and some parts of Nepal and Burma. A male's territory is about 20 square miles, whereas the females roam around about 17 square miles of habitat. Within their home, they usually have several dens that they alternate between.

The gestation period for females is about 3 months after which they give birth to 1 - 6 cubs.  The cubs are nursed for about two weeks until their eyes open and their teeth begin to grow in. After about 6 months, the cubs venture out with their mother. Like the Siberians they stay with the tigress until they are between 3 and 5 years old. 

The Bengal tigers can carry the recessive genes that causes the occurrence of white tigers. All white tigers therefore are part Bengal.

Weight: Male: 419 - 569 lbs;  Female: 221 - 353 lbs.
Length: Male: 8 - 11 feet; Female: 7  - 9 feet.
Diet: Wild ox (gaur) and buffalo, wild boar, types of deer, monkeys

 


THE SOUTH-CHINESE

Panthera tigris amoyensis


The rarest and most threatened of all tigers, the south Chinese tiger is also known as the Xiamen or Amoy tiger. These tigers are believed to be the earliest of the subspecies from which the others originated. They can be found in Central and Eastern China. Their habitat ranges from forests to rocky mountains and were originally found in coastal caves near the island of Amoy, thus the alternate name with which they are known. In the year 2000, less than 50 of these tigers were believed to be existing in the wild.

These tigers are colored much darker then their relatives, their eyes are set closer together, their tails do not taper off but end suddenly. They are smaller than the Bengal tigers and have fewer stripes. The white on their belly is extended further than the other species. The gestation period for the females is approximately 103 days, she can have 1-5 cubs per litter but on average it is usually 2 -3.
The cubs join mom hunting after about 8 weeks, they learn how to kill in 6 months and can hunt for themselves at one and a half years of age.

Threats for this animal are: Massive deforestation, poisoning due to pollution by chemical fertilizers,  reduction of number of prey animals.

Conservation efforts are underway and two preserves have been established in China in Jiangxi and Hunan, where the environment is ideal for re-population efforts for these beautiful animals.

Weight: Male: 285 - 390 lbs; Female: 220-260 lbs.

Length: Male: 7'7" - 8'7"; Female: 7'3" - 7'11"

Diet: Cattle, Deer, Pigs

 


CORBETT'S TIGER 

Panthera tigris corbetti


The Indo-Chinese tiger is slimmer and smaller than the Chinese Tiger and was named after the famed hunter Jim Corbett. Once common throughout Southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Burma, this mammal can now only be found in the jungles of Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and much of Indo China.  They live in remote forests and mountainous area throughout these regions. The overall current population is estimated between 1100 and 1800 animals. They are the second largest population of tigers after the Bengal.

Because these animals live in such remote areas, we know a lot less about this species of tiger than about the others. Although they resemble the Bengal tiger, they are smaller and darker in color with shorter and  narrower stripes. They are lighter than the Sumatran tiger, and their stomach, throat and cheeks have large white markings.

The gestation period for the females is approximately 103 days, she can have 1-5 cubs per litter but on average it is usually 2 -3.
The cubs join mom hunting after about 8 weeks, they learn how to kill in 6 months and can hunt for themselves at one and a half years of age.

Threats for this animal are: Poaching and killing for body parts for Chinese medicine., massive deforestation, water supply shortages, poisoning due to pollution by chemical fertilizers,  reduction of number of prey animals.

Conservation efforts are underway and two preserves have been established in China in Jiangxi and Hunan, where the environment is ideal for re-population efforts for these beautiful animals.

Weight: Male: 390 - 620 lbs; Female: 250-400 lbs.

Length: Male: 7'7" - 8'7"; Female: 7'3" - 7'11"

Diet: Deer, Wild Pigs, Tapir, tortoises, reptiles.


THE SUMATRAN

Panthera tigris sumatrae


The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the subspecies of tiger. This species is found solely on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (about the size of the state of California) where y about 400-500 of them are believed to roam the lowland, mountainous forests.

The Sumatran has the darkest colors of all tigers and it has stripes on its legs which the Siberian does not have. The stripes are broad and closely spaced together and often times doubled. Their coat is orange to reddish-brown

This species is very well represented in zoos all around the world and are part of extensive breeding programs as well. Captive populations are sometimes supplemented with wild tigers captured because they became a hazard to human life in their ever-shrinking surroundings or rescued when injured to the extent that they cannot be returned to the wild.

The gestation period for the females is approximately 103 days, she can have 1-5 cubs per litter but on average it is usually 2 -3.
The cubs join mom hunting after about 8 weeks, they learn how to kill in 6 months and can hunt for themselves at one and a half years of age.

Deforestation (due to illegal logging) of their natural habitat is the biggest threat to these beautiful animals and a recent study suggests that the Sumatran tigers will be extinct in the wild by the year 2014, less than 12 years!

Weight: Male: Average 264 lbs; Average Female: 198 lbs.

Length: Male: Average 8'; Average Female: 7'

Diet: Deer, Wild Pigs, Rusa (big deer) , Muntjak (small deer) or barking deer.

 

The March 2002 AZA Tiger SSP numbers are out and here are the numbers to give you an idea on what is going on.

SSP Wild Tiger Population Report

                            Amur Tiger :                 400 adults in Russia and  China considered critically endangered by  IUCN/SSC

 

                            Sumatran Tiger:            400 adults in Sumatra, considered critically  endangered by IUCN/SSC

 

                            Indochinese Tiger :        1,200 - 1,400 adults in Asia, considered  endangered by IUCN/SSC

 

SSP Captive Tiger Population

                           Amur Tiger                    149 with 96.7 % gene diversity maintained

                           Sumatran Tiger               55 with  91.3 % gene diversity

                           Indochinese Tiger           37 with  80.8 % gene diversity

                           Generic                          25

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This page was created by Brigitte Ivory

copyright 2001 Wildlife Survival Sanctuary Inc