captive tiger

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Back From The Dead? Reported Sightings Fuel Hope For Return Of Tasmanian Tigers

It has been more than eight decades since the last known Tasmanian tiger died. In that time, the marsupial has become the stuff of textbook sketches and yellowing photographs, little more than a memory aging into oblivion.

But Thylacinus cynocephalus may still be out there.

 Recent “plausible sightings” have challenged the accepted wisdom that the animal has gone extinct — and have inspired researchers at Australia’s James Cook University to commence a quest to find it themselves.

Let’s clarify one thing right away: this animal is no feline. In fact, it’s a marsupial — in the same family as kangaroos — but its face looks a lot like a dog.

“It’s a dog with a pouch,” the university’s Sandra Abell tells All Things Considered. She’s one of the people leading the search in Queensland, Australia.

The Tasmanian tiger, in this photograph taken while the species was still around. terr-bo/Flickr

A Tasmanian tiger in captivity, circa 1930. It is believed that the last wild thylacine was shot in 1930 and the last captive one died in 1936.  Topical Press Agency/Getty Images            

Tiger cowboy. I read an old article that mentioned that there are more tigers in captivity in Texas than in the wild globally and felt like it would make for an interesting piece. I love my tigers so I’m quite passionate on what’s going on with them around the world (even 5 year old news articles)  🐯

Very pleased with the turnout for this illustration overall!

Golden Tigers (or Golden Tabby Tigers) are an extremely rare color mutation that is thought to affect only 30 tigers in the world - all in captivity. The genetic mutation in captive tigers can be traced back to a recessive gene that was in a white tiger named Bhim. Bhim was a carrier of the gene that caused this color mutation, what is thought to be the wide band gene (a recessive trait), and was mated to his sister who also held the wide band gene. Neither of these tigers showed the characteristics of a Golden Tiger but one of the cubs did. The cub was born in 1987.

It is thought that Golden Tigers once roamed the wild but the last two were shot and killed in 1932 and only through captive breeding was this color mutation brought back.

swellingseas  asked:

Dunno if this is out of your expertise or anything, but I was curious about your opinion on the current Kenya Ivory burn going on. I find it incredibly frustrating that they're trying to send this idealistic message when the economics of destroying ivory means that this will only drive up the cost for ivory and hence drive up poaching, but do you know if there's a strong counter-argument against that?

I’m not an expert, but I can tell you my opinion based on the research I’ve read.

The short answer: there’s no strong evidence that ivory burns either increase or decrease demand for ivory. Focusing on the effectiveness of the burns is a bit of a conservation red herring.

The longer answer: there’s a shit ton to unpack here, unfortunately. But the main thing to understand is that the ivory being burned comes from government stockpiles. This is ivory that is already off the market, because the government isn’t selling it, and hopefully won’t ever sell it. To suggest that destroying the stockpiles is akin to increase demand by decreasing supply is almost to suggest that the right thing for the government to do would be to put the ivory back onto the market.

In theory, that almost sounds okay. Supply up - demand down, right? And if there’s a way to buy ivory legally, that should drive down prices on the black market- in theory. Here is the issue: there is practically no way to identify whether or not ivory has been obtained legally or illegally. (Legal ivory comes from products taken before bans were enacted or other such loopholes.) Essentially, anyone can slap a sticker on an ivory product that says “100% totally not poached!” In fact, many huge ivory shops in China do just this, despite the arguments of experts who say there’s no fucking way the sheer volume of ivory moving through these places is all certifiably legal.

(The U.S. isn’t exactly clean either, though; our people tend to just claim they inherited their ivory from their grandparents.)

If there was some way to sustainably harvest wild animals with 22-month pregnancies (in case you were wondering: there is not), perhaps arguments of keeping supply somewhat high would have more merit. However, even then, there are major problems. First, again, differentiating between legal and illegal ivory would still be a huge issue. Second, there’s the fact that supply is not the only factor driving up the price of ivory. In fact, it probably isn’t even the largest one- and in fact, there’s the possibility that increasing supply could also increase demand.

This becomes apparent when you look at the illegal tiger trade in China. To sum up another very complicated issue, trade in most tiger products such as tiger bone wine has been illegal in China since 1992. This greatly reduced supply, and the vast majority of medicine shops stopped carrying tiger products. However, almost immediately after the ban was put in place, several large, government-backed tiger farms were opened in China, ostensibly for conservation purposes. (Not a single tiger from these farms has been successfully released into the wild, by the way.)

In recent years, China has eased parts of the ban, allowing some farms to sell tiger bone wine so long as they don’t explicitly sell it as medicine. Now some members of the Chinese government are saying that the ban should be lifted so that trade in domestic tiger parts can reduce the pressure on wild tigers. But the evidence suggests that the effect would be the opposite. Demand for tiger products dropped following the initial ban, but has been ticking back up. And so has poaching of wild tigers, in spite of the use of captive populations- with 90% of all confiscated products destined for Chinese markets. Putting tiger products back on the market increased demand. And like ivory, there is no way to tell legal tiger bone from poached tiger bone. From an EIA report:

A lack of clarity over the use of captive-bred tiger bones has created an environment of confusion in which tiger bone wine is being produced and marketed. With 5,000-6,000 tigers in captivity there is a growing ‘bank’ of bones stockpiled by private tiger breeders and owners. Instead of being destroyed, skin and bone stockpiles are being registered and labelled, further fuelling speculation of future trade…

Contrary to pro-trade lobby assertions running a legal trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers for nearly 10 years has not stopped the poaching of wild tigers and other Asian big cats.

So: elephants. What the lessons from tigers suggest is that the most effective way to decrease poaching doesn’t necessarily lie in increasing supply of the animal parts, and in fact this can cause a net harm. Indeed, part of the rise of elephant poaching may actually have been prompted by attempts to ease the ban on ivory trade by such reputable organizations as CITES by allowing certain countries to sell their confiscated stockpiles and even legally sell some newly-acquired ivory. There’s no evidence that this worked to decrease the rising demand for elephant tusks.

Of course, again, this is a massive simplification of only one factor that drives the demand for ivory and other animal parts (and I don’t mean to imply that China is the only country driving demand, either). The point I’m trying to make is that the best way to stop animal poaching is to destroy things from the demand side. If we can convince people that ivory is worthless- because the only value it has is the one we attach to it- we should.

Sources and further reading below the cut- I highly recommend reading up on China’s captive tiger trade, it’s fascinating and horrifying.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

honestly I hate the idea of having wild animals in captivity. People argue it's for conservation but just having them exist doesn't mean shit if their habitat is still being destroyed and they're never returned to the wild. Like the fact that there are more tigers in captivity, not just including zoos including people's own backyards than in the wild infuriates me. Animals don't need us to study them they need us to leave them the fuck alone

I agree with you. There is no point to have, say, wolves, in captivity, and none in the wild. These animals serve a purpose in the wild, in captivity they serve no purpose other than information, entertainment, etc, for people. The information on behavior is pretty skewed also, because they don’t act like they would in captivity as they would in the wild. I know it can be hard to live in a world where people don’t care about animals in the wild, or our planet. We just have to care that much more and make it known!

US government cracks down on letting zoo visitors play with lion and tiger cubs.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has acquiesced to pressure from animal welfare groups to stamp out the use of cubs as entertainment for zoo visitors, who pay often sizable sums to get their picture taken holding, playing with or feeding tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs.

The USDA has determined that zoos which remove cubs under four weeks old from their mothers and allow them to be manhandled by the paying public are in violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Zoos must ensure cubs are kept with their mothers, sheltered properly and handled with care by staff only.

A coalition of animal welfare groups has pointed to evidence that 75 so-called roadside zoos have removed hundreds of cubs from their mothers to allow them to be handled by the public. This process interrupts the nutrition cubs receive from their mothers and alters their behavior.
The Humane Society said evidence it has gathered from two zoos – Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia and Tiger Safari in Oklahoma – shows that cubs are regularly punched and smacked to prevent them from playfully scratching or biting people.
One cub was used for 30 photo sessions and five 30-minute private play sessions in one day. With visitors charged $50 for a photo and $300 for a play session, the Humane Society said one cub could bring in $65,000 for a zoo over the course of a single summer.
“We have seen substandard zoos mass breeding tigers for this kind of activity and then immediately severing the maternal bond with their mothers so they are compliant with human contact,” said Anna Frostic, attorney at the Humane Society. “They are regularly deprived of a regular, nutritious feeding schedule.
“This activity is inherently inhumane. It’s not possible to convince a mother tiger that you will take her babies for a day and then given them back. That’s not how it works.”
The zoos that allow people to grapple with big cats are covered by the Animal Welfare Act but are not members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a peak body that requires members to keep cubs with their mothers. Frostic said the USDA’s move will put these zoos “on notice” that they will be prosecuted if they flout regulations.
The improper use of exotic cats has wider implications than their immediate welfare. Once cubs have grown up and are deemed surplus to requirements, they are often handed off to accredited zoos who have to find the resources to tend for them. The practice can also help fuel the market for poaching tigers and selling their parts.
“The fate of captive tigers in the US has serious implications for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for wildlife conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “Strengthened regulation of US captive tigers will help ensure that captive-bred tiger parts don’t enter the black market and stimulate the demand that drives the poaching of wild tigers.”

transistor-sister-radio  asked:

Hey, so I just double checked to make sure it wasn't in the big car sanctuary post, and I was wondering if you had any info on project survival's car haven, and whether it's a good place or not?

I hadn’t heard of the facility before! Thanks for asking.

At first blush, skimming the website, they looked pretty okay but the more I dug into the facebook posts the less comfortable I am with it because somebody is just going to get themselves killed there. Lots of stupid contact with big cats (although not cub petting, or for the public), no secondary containment/dangerous animal protocol, implied breeding of captive big cats. The biggest problem, though, is that for a facility that frames themselves as an educational facility they do a piss-poor job of it on social media and on their website on really important big cat issues and they post a lot of ‘cute’ photos without any context or education and they’re super misleading. 

First off, they don’t label themselves a sanctuary in their mission statement and the fact that they call it out directly is good. They purposefully bill themselves as an education organization that happens to take in rescue cats.I like that honesty, but I’m also a little suspicious of purposefully distancing themselves from the sanctuary label because it probably implies a set of standards of care and methodology? I don’t like places that own big cats for non-rescue reasons, either - you can do education without multiples of endangered species, or go to a zoo. 

Dangerous enclosures:

One thing that really worries me is the enclosure you can see in this video. It looks like a good exhibit overall - but look how close those people are to the fence. There’s no secondary containment there. None. In the public sector. That’s stupid enough in staff access areas, but to not have dangerous animal protocols in the fucking public view is just asking for people to lose body parts. Again, this video: no secondary containment and 360 degree enclosures. Not safe at all. 

Breeding endangered big cats:

I can’t find any direct information on if they breed their cats, but it’s implied because they mention that their rescue ‘white tiger’ will not be bred. I’m iffy about that because they have some endangered species whose genetics are pretty heavily regulated through Species Survival Programs in AZA facilities, so any breeding they do wouldn’t have any impact on conservation projects. Non SSP animals aren’t ever reintroduced into captive populations because their genes are an unknown. 

They do talk about how the white tiger is a rescue and won’t be bred, but not about why. That’s a pretty big oversight for a facility that supposedly does education for big cats as justification for existing. Maybe they do it in person, but if it’s not on the website profile of her - nothing about her health issues or being inbred or anything - I doubt it. 

Scrolling through facebook it’s pretty obvious they do breed. Look at this photo:

The number of issues in this photo are immense.

No gloves or protective gear for sensitive cub immune systems.

Nursery set up in the middle of an open staff building where there’s probably a lot of traffic and no privacy and lots of germs, from the look of the space. 

Two cats being fed at the same time - no way to monitor consumption.

Single-layer containment on the fence.

Water/pee outside the fence from the staff area leaking into the enclosure, maybe? (Can’t tell for sure but there’s no water dish nearby in the exhibit, and the spill pattern looks like it’s running into the exhibit). 

No bedding or den materials for the cubs (straw and shavings are messy enough you’d be able to see some of them). 

And again, no context on the photo when it was posted on Facebook. Lots of ‘I want one’ and ‘cute’ comments. These are also probably clouded or snow leopard cubs, both of which are highly endangered but this doesn’t do jack for ‘conservation’ because they’re not accredited. 

Too much free contact:

I’m trying to figure out the level of contact they have with their cats. What I can tell from facebook is that it looks like enough to be stupid and unsafe and there’s no institutional philosophy about it. It’s not mentioned on the website, which means there’s some, because facilities that are no-contact with big cats tend to display that publicly. The more I scroll through their facebook page, the less I like it. There’s a photo of a dude taking a fucking selfie with a melanistic leopard while out on a walk… which means he’s a) not keeping an eye on the cat b) in a vulnerable position around the cat and c) putting his face right next to big teeth. That’s not okay. 

Next, there’s this photo of a snow leopard sitting on someone’s lap. It’s associate with text that says it doesn’t happen anymore, and there’s a bottle on the floor so they were probably hand-raising, but that doesn’t really make it OK. That snow leopard cub is far too old to still be in contact with people - most responsible facilities would have pulled contact long before. Snow leopards also imprint on people super heavily (from personal experience around some hand-raised ones) and from what I know should be raised with less contact instead of more. Again, notice, no secondary containment - that’s a single-layer fence with pretty big holes. Paws can definitely fit through those, and reach pretty damn far. 

Shitty education:

There’s also this text associated with a facebook video that makes me side-eye them a little:

“Out for a walk with Tango. As you can see the cheetahs love their walks. Why would people hate this? Believe me there are some on this page that do hate interaction with animals.”

Now, it’s pretty normal for education ambassador cheetahs to be walked on leashes - much more so than any other big cat. They’re not as strong and tend to be more dog-like so it’s a more commonly accepted practice. But there’s that thing about ‘why do people hate this’. As a place that does education, I would expect them to be able to eloquently comment on the dangers of free contact and the importance of respecting big cats and to probably purposefully do that sort of outreach on their videos… not diss it in an offhand ‘look how pretty this is how could you hate it’ unprofessional way.

So far, just to count the few posts I’ve covered:

No information on why white tigers are unhealthy and shouldn’t be bred

No information on facebook about being safe around big cats during free-contact photos

No information posted about husbandry and hand-raising behaviors, period, with the “cute” photos of people handling cubs.

Misleading responses to “attacks” on contact with cheetahs

Oh, and oh look, they take cubs to camps (this one is labeled as a camp for 6th graders) for “education”.

In short: B- or C+, mayyyybe. 

Obviously, this place isn’t as bad as BJWT or T.I.G.E.R.S - it’s hard to be that abominable and not be on a larger radar - but I really don’t like them. They seem to have good enrichment and good enclosures and the cats all look like they’re in pretty good body condition and they do get training, but that’s about all the good I can say. They breed endangered cats, haul the cubs around, post a lot of misleading information and really don’t pull contact as soon as they should. It’s dangerous and stupid and doesn’t teach people anything except that it’s okay to support facilities that do that sort of thing - because there’s no associated information distinguishing their practices from that of a place like T.I.G.E.R.S. 

It really pisses me the fuck off when places masquerade as educational facilities and then do such a bad job of covering anything important and instead teach all the wrong stuff. UGH. Do not support.

(All photos sourced from PSCatHaven’s public facebook page). 

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Since the 1800s, people have sometimes reported seeing pure white tigers, these have become known as Stripeless Tigers (or Ghost-Striped Tigers). Written descriptions can be found in many places, including the 1829 book Le Règne Animal written by French zoologist and naturalist Georges Cuvier. “A white variety of Tiger is sometimes seen, with the stripes very opaque, and not to be observed except in certain angles of light.”

However these cats are far from a mystery animal from historic documents - they are an extremely rare color morph. These tigers not only hold the genetic mutation in the pigment gene “SLC45A2″ (this mutation causes pigment changes in red and orange colors while not affecting black colors at all). They have another mutated gene on top of that one which causes them to lose the color in their stripes. 

In 2004, a stripeless white tiger was born to two normal healthy bengal tigers at a wildlife refuge in Alicante, Spain. This cub was named Artico (left photo). In 2008, another was born at Cango Wildlife Ranch, near Cape Town, South Africa. Her name is Fareeda (right photo). Fareeda is thought to be the first white tiger born in Africa, even with her lack of stripes. It is said that these tigers are two of only 20 stripeless tigers in the world, all living in captivity. 

ninjafirefox  asked:

It genuinely sickens me how people on tumblr don't even think to question it when they see big cats in close contact with people. They talk about how cute it is and say "oh my gosh it's just a big kitten I want one!" It's that mentality that is the reason why there are more tigers in captivity in the US than in the wild.

Well, that’s also because all the wild ones keep getting killed and don’t have a habitat anymore, but yeah… it definitely contributes to the exotic pet trade.