Tag: Tigers

Finally, The US Is Poised To Outlaw Big Cat ‘Ownership’

Even though Tiger King, the tawdry Netflix documentary about a redneck and his “zoo” full of tigers, focused more on the eccentric people involved than the plight of the big cats in their “care,” it got people talking about the problem of captive tigers in the US.

In 2020, congress passed a rare bipartisan bill to ban all big cat ownership in the US. The bill stalled when the senate failed to vote on it before the end of the legislative session, but now it’s back — and the recent saga of a confused tiger wandering around Houston may finally provide the nudge for politicians to pass the badly-needed bill.

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After almost exterminating tigers, Chinese poachers have turned to South America, where they’re poaching jaguars at unprecedented rates to feed demand for big cat parts in the traditional Chinese medicine market. Jaguar poaching has increased 200-fold in the past five years to fuel Chinese demand for their body parts.

There are more tigers living in Texas and Florida backyards than there are in the wild, an ignominious fact that says volumes about humanity’s indifference to the plight of the Earth’s most powerful and iconic predators. Devastated by habitat destruction and poaching to feed the bottomless Chinese appetite for tiger parts used in traditional Chinese “medicine,” the worldwide wild tiger population is about 3,900, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

By contrast, there’s an estimated 7,000 tigers kept as “pets” in the US, with as many as 5,000 of them in Texas.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act would ban the private ownership of tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, cougars and cheetahs. It would also outlaw the practice of taking tiger cubs from their mothers so guests can hold them and take selfies with them, which has become an increasingly-popular and controversial feature of “roadside zoos” — unregulated, poorly run, unaccredited facilities — in the US.

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Cheetahs, already critically endangered due to habitat loss, are on the verge of extinction as they’ve become the exotic pet of choice among the wealthy of the UAE and Russia.

The Houston tiger, named India, is one of those unfortunate cubs. While the public freaked out and Houston residents huddled in their homes, hoping to record footage of the wandering tiger, an important fact was often left out of media reports: India is only eight months old. He’s essentially a baby, albeit a 175-pound one, and he had no idea what was happening to him, where he was, how to feed himself, or how to escape the endless sprawl of urban and suburban Texas.

Despite the fact that he was a confused-yet-playful cub, India could have easily been shot by authorities. Thankfully he survived his ordeal, and while his “owner,” Victor Cuevas, is sitting in jail on $300,000 bond, India has been relocated to a sanctuary in northern Texas, where he’ll be looked after and will get to live in the company of other tigers.

In the meantime, we all have an opportunity to lobby our respective senators and demand that they vote for the Big Cat Public Safety Act. You can fire off a letter to your senators and congressional representative in less than two minutes using the Animal Welfare Institute’s site — just punch in your address and the site will draft automated letters to all three, with fields to sign your name and to personalize the letters.

Tell them you support the Big Cat Public Safety Act, and you’ll take their vote into consideration the next time you head to the ballot box.

All images credit Wikimedia Commons.

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In the wild, tigers range more than 50 miles a day. Backyards, no matter how large, are not suitable environments for them.

 

Bewildered Tigers Watch As Buddy Enters Enclosure

NEW YORK — A domestic feline entered the big cat enclosure at the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday, with the bemused tiger inhabitants unsure of how to respond to the brazen intruder.

“Sup guys!” the silver tabby calling himself Buddy meowed to the confused big cats, according to witnesses.

The bold domestic feline, who weighs approximately 10 pounds, made his way around the enclosure, fist-bumping each of the tigers before sauntering over to the rock pool and laying down next to a 506-pound male named Gerald.

“Whaddup, Gerald,” Buddy the Cat said as he emulated the much larger cat’s posture. “What’s good, my homie?”

Gerald turned his head toward the smaller cat and roared, but Buddy was unperturbed.

“Yeah,” he said to the massive tiger. “I feel you, bro. Haters gonna hate, am I right? Us apex predators just don’t get no respect no more.”

Gerald roared again.

“Exactly what I’m saying, my dude,” Buddy replied.

The massive felid eyed Buddy for a second as if deciding whether there was enough meat on his bones to justify turning him into a snack, then shrugged and yawned.

Bud and Gerald the Tiger
Best homies.

Asked later why he entered the tiger enclosure, Buddy said it was “important to connect with my heritage.”

“I’m showing solidarity with my peeps,” the silver tabby told reporters.

Encouraged by the fact that the tigers seemed to tolerate his presence, Buddy returned to the enclosure later the same day, only for a white tigress to claim him.

“I’m not your cub!” the tabby said, squirming as the tigress lifted him with the scruff of his neck between her teeth. “I’m a grown tiger! Put me down this instant!”

The domestic cat still hadn’t emerged from the tigress’ den by the next morning. A witness using a telephoto lens confirmed Buddy tried to make a run for it several times, only to be pulled back and given a tongue bath.

“Unpaw me! Untongue me!” he could be heard screaming from inside the den. “Help! Somebody help me!”

A zoo spokesman said there were currently no plans to free Buddy the cat.

Spectacular Tigress Image Wins Wildlife Photo Of The Year

A photo of a tigress hugging a tree in Siberia has won the prestigious Wildlife Photo Of The Year from London’s Natural History Museum.

Photographer Sergey Gorshkov beat out almost 50,000 other entrants with his winning photograph, taken in Land of the Leopard National Park, a large reserve for tigers and leopards in Far East Siberia.

Gorshkov set up his camera facing a tree that already had claw marks, signaling that it’s been used as a territorial marker by at least one of more than 30 adult tigers in the park.

Sure enough, a tigress stopped to claw new marks on the tree and rub her scent on it, which is the same behavior we see with house cats when they rub on objects — and people — in the home. Cats have scent glands on their faces and paws which allow them to mark objects with pheromones. It’s a cat’s way of leaving a “sign” saying “This is mine.”

The photo has an ethereal quality, with the tigress and tree illuminated by shafts of sunlight poking through the canopy of the ancient forest.

Wild and free Siberian Tiger!

An announcement from the park’s staff describes the scene:

The photo titled “Hugs” shows the moment in which the rarest Amur tiger hugs a century-old fir to mark the target tree with its scent. Sergey Gorshkov, with the support of professional guides from Land of the Leopard, took a picture using a professional camera with a motion sensor.

“This is a scene like no other, a unique look at an intimate moment deep in a magical forest,” said Rose Kidman Cox, chairwoman of the contest’s jury.

The photo “inspires hope” for the endangered Amur tiger, Cox said. In addition to the 30-plus tigers, Land of the Leopard National Park is also home to at least 10 tiger cubs and almost 100 leopards.

Gorshkov’s photo wasn’t the only feline winner this year. “When mother says run,” a photograph by China’s Shanyan Li, shows a trio of Pallas’ cubs with their mother “on the remote steppes of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest China.” The photograph won in the mammalian behavior category.

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French Couple Buys ‘Savannah Kitten,’ Gets Tiger Cub Instead

A French couple who answered an online ad to buy a Savannah kitten ended up with a tiger cub instead.

The couple, from Le Havre — a coastal town in Normandy, about 110 miles west of Paris — plunked down $7,000 for the little cat, who they were told was an exotic mix between a Serval and a domestic cat.

After about a week, they realized their “kitten” was a tiger cub and contacted authorities, UPI reported. Specialists from the French Biodiversity Office determined the cub is a Sumatran tiger and are caring for the growing cat.

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That happened back in 2018, and the reason we’re only hearing about it now is because French police have completed their investigation in which they tracked down the seller and arrested nine people on animal trafficking laws.

There are only some 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild in the entire world. Habitat destruction, poaching and the illegal wildlife market are the primary causes pushing the iconic big cats to extinction.

Meanwhile, Buddy the Cat believes he too was born of wild tiger stock and was mistaken for a common kitten when he was adopted by Big Buddy.

“Obviously, they dyed my fur gray,” Buddy said. “But they couldn’t do anything to hide how ripped I am.”

All images via Wikimedia Commons.

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Buddy’s PSA: Dudes, You Can Adopt Cats Too!

Big Buddy: [The Human] Somehow people got this ridiculous idea that cats are exclusively pets for women…

Little Buddy: [The Cat] …which is absurd because we’re basically small tigers. I mean, look at me. Who wouldn’t run in terror if they found themselves on the wrong side of these claws?

Big Buddy: We’re here to dispel the idea that cats are for women, and tell you that caring for a cat is a manly thing to do.

Little Buddy: That’s right! Extremely manly.

Big Buddy: We do manly stuff around here.

Little Buddy: That’s right! We watch football, we drive around in a rugged pick-up truck and we grunt a lot.

Big Buddy: We don’t actually do any of those things.

Little Buddy: But we would, if we cared about football and trucks.

Big Buddy: We’re into other manly stuff, like baseball, basketball, huge starship battles and fight club. We funkatize entire galaxies, facilitate the spread of interstellar funk and blast funky bass lines from black holes.

Little Buddy: We don’t talk about fight club.

Big Buddy: And besides, the most badass canine is a wolf…

Little Buddy: …but the most badass feline is a tiger!

Big Buddy: That’s not even a contest. A tiger is clearly more badass than a wolf.

Little Buddy: Significantly more badass! A veritable fount of badassery. More badass by several orders of magnitude.

Big Buddy: I think they get it, little dude.

Little Buddy: I was just making sure.

Big Buddy: So if you’re a dude thinking about adopting a cat, don’t let dumbasses tell you cats are “feminine” pets…

Little Buddy: …cause then you’d be missing out on having your very own little tiger buddy. RAWR!!!

Big Buddy: Maybe we could do without the roar. You sound like Elmo singing in falsetto.

Little Buddy: I do not! I sound like a terrifying jungle cat.

Big Buddy: Okay, Elmo.

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Not Elmo.