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Re-wilding Tigers

Friday, May 02, 2008 - 11:30 AM

tiger cub at 8 months old tiger cub at 8 months old (digitalart)

Earlier this week, an article in the New York Times reported some good news about the genetic diversity of captive tigers. Apparently, a new study found that up to 20% of captive tigers are purebred, with genetic variations that no longer exist in the wild.

The article also pointed out that only 3,000 tigers now exist in the wild (that's down from 100,000 in about 100 years). And of the tigers in captivity, only about 1,000 are part of breeding programs aimed at saving their respective species.

Three such tigers in South Africa made the headlines last month. A South China tiger--one of the most threatened tiger breeds--named Cathay gave birth to two cubs. The cubs, along with another born in November, are all the offspring of a South China tiger named Tiger Woods. They're the first cubs of their kind to be born in captivity, and therefore raise hopes of saving their species--which The International Union for Conservation of Nature already declared extinct in 2002. The cubs are part of program in South Africa that aims to breed tigers, and eventually 're-wild' them after creating reserves in China.

For more information, check out this article at Times Online.

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