(Panthera tigris)




Facts about this animal

There are six extant subspecies of tigers: The  Amur (Siberian) tiger , Panthera tigris altaica, which is the largest of the tiger subspecies, the Indian (Bengal)  tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, which currently has the largest population of all subspecies, the Indochinese tiger, Panthera tigris corbetti; the Malayan tiger, Panthera tigris jacksoni, which is about 20 percent smaller than the Indian tiger, the South China tiger, Panthera tigris amoyensis, also a small-bodied subspecies, nearing extinction, there are less than 30 South China tigers left in the wild, and the Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris, which is the smallest tiger subspecies and is very vividly coloured. Stripe patterns differ among individuals and from one side of the cat's body to the other. No two tigers have the same markings. Other interesting tiger markings are the white spots on the backs of their ears. This may be a visual cue for tigers looking for other tigers, or it may be a way for mothers to keep their cubs in sight in the dense forest undergrowth.
Males are larger and heavier than females. They have a prominent ruff, which is especially marked in the Sumatran tiger. Tigers usually become sexually mature at the age of 3 years. After a gestation of about 103 days the female gives birth most frequently to 2 or 3 cubs. In Zoos tigers become older than in the wild and may reach an age of upto 26 years.

Did you know?
that there are more privately owned "pet" tigers in the United States than there are wild tigers in the whole world? These unfortunate animals are usually declawed, often mistreated, and may suffer serious health problems due to inbreeding or inadequate feed.


Name (Scientific) Panthera tigris
Name (English) Tiger
Name (French) Tigre
Name (German) Tiger
Name (Spanish) Tigre
Local names Bahasa: Macan
Hindi: Bagh, Sher
Malay: Harimau
Russian: Tigr
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott



Range Eastern and southern Asia
Habitat Tropical rainforest, snow-covered coniferous and deciduous forests, mangrove swamps and drier forest types
Wild population Species total approx. 3'350-4'700, of which altaica 431–529 , amoyensis a few, corbetti (including jacksoni described as a different subspecies in 2004) 1200-1,750, sumatrae less than 400, tigris 1411 according to the most recent official count, which is contested by some. (WWF 2008)
Zoo population 1508 reported to ISIS (2009), of which 435 altaica, 317 tigris, 244 sumatrae, 48 corbetti, 325 unspecified and 82 subspecific hybrids.

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements, sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal, and have an adequate number of handles. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. A double door design on each end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door on each end should have bars to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal that provides safety for the handlers. The doors on each end of the crate should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta. The crate should be of a size that allows easy lifting, transport and movement through doorways.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and eventually food should be provided while the animal is in transit. Ideally one of the animal's keepers should accompany it during transport, providing for its care and helping it adjust to the new environment.


For air transport, Container Note 72 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep tigers for essentially the same reason as they keep any endangered species - conservation. Tigers are a very effective focus for all kinds of conservation efforts. People are fascinated by their power, grace and beauty, and hence they can inspire a lifelong concern for our wildlife and our environment - both in the West and in countries where tigers still live, yet can be seen only in the zoos. This great public affection for the tiger also helps in raising funds for the field; many zoos use tigers as a conservation flagship, and in 2002-4 they were the focus of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Tiger Campaign. During the campaign EAZA zoos raised three-quarters of a million Euros, which was used to support tiger conservation projects in four countries through 21st Century Tiger . The Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (ARAZPA) also raised a significant amount through their own campaign, and many individual zoos in these and other regions have continue to produce funds for tigers after the campaign ended.


Less obvious than fundraising or awareness are the conservation contributions zoo tigers can make in terms of information and skills. Captures for radio-collaring studies, for example, would not be possible without the knowledge of tiger anaesthetics developed in zoos over many years. Zoos can also supply biological data, such as exact gestation period, and useful biological samples - for example, in 2004 zoo tiger blood samples were collected in UK zoos to help develop a system whereby field workers can identify individual wild tigers from DNA markers found in their faeces. Zoos around the world are carefully managing their tiger populations in order to ensure they can keep generating all these benefits for at least the next century, and this also ensures that should there ever be a need for a reintroduction of tigers using zoo stocks, suitable animals will be available. However, the driving force behind maintenance of zoo tiger populations is to prevent extinction in the wild, rather than to attempt to cure it after the event! Large carnivores such as tigers are among the most difficult animals to reintroduce successfully, primarily because of the potential for conflict with humans, and the best strategy is to avoid the need.