From: Editor, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Published October 21, 2010 08:58 AM

Tigers Among US

Did you know that there are more tigers in American backyards than there are in the wild around the world? The United States has one of the largest populations of captive tigers in the world − estimated at perhaps 5,000 tigers, compared to as few as 3,200 in the wild. They are found in backyards, urban apartments, sideshows, truck stops and private breeding facilities.


In many jurisdictions, people can legally keep a tiger on their property without reporting it to local officials or neighbors. In some states, it is easier to buy a tiger than to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter. Rarely can officials determine how many tigers there are in captivity within state borders − or where they are, who owns them, or what happens to their body parts (highly prized on the black market) when they die.

It's critical that the United States better regulate the captivity of tigers. When tiger ownership and breeding aren't monitored, captive tigers become easy targets for black market sales, and those sales end up threatening wild populations. Here's how that happens: The illegal trade in products derived from captive tigers stimulates demand, especially for wild tigers. The more demand there is, the more wild tigers are poached.

There has never been a better time to make it right. In 2010 − the Year of the Tiger − WWF is working to close loopholes in regulations for tiger ownership set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We also play an active role in supporting tiger range countries' commitment to Tx2, WWF's ambitious goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022.

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