Wildlife Wednesdays: The Sad Truth of U.S. Tiger Trade | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: The Sad Truth of U.S. Tiger Trade

In the United States alone, there are about 5,000 tigers in captivity compared to around 3,200 that live in the wild. This is mostly due to the exotic pet trade. Sadly, it is a booming business in the United States among the wealthy, who want them in their houses or roaming around in the garden, mostly a status symbol. Many of the tigers come from collectors, which are not held to the same regulations as breeding programs such as zoos and sanctuaries. 

Zoos and sanctuaries have to provide evidence that they will maintain a safe place for the tiger with lots of room, high degree of animal welfare, visitor education, health and safety, and record keeping. Breeding tigers must be done in the upmost respect and record keeping must be kept when breeding to avoid inbreeding and breeding across subspecies. If any zoo or sanctuary fails to meet this, they will not be recognized by the Association for Zoos and Aquariums. Breeding programs at zoos and sanctuaries are meant to expand the genetic diversity of tiger species that are on the decline. Private collectors basically create rare forms of tiger species to sell for money, big money! They do not even take into effect the chances of genetic malformations these cubs can have. 

Tiger cubs are meant to be with their mother after they are born and should not be removed early. Tiger cubs are not meant for human interaction either. Removed from their mom can be stressful for them as well as interacting with unfamiliar people and sounds. Cubs need to play and practice hunting so they can grow up with these natural instincts for the wild. Sadly, tiger trading in the United States is legal and when these owners run into money troubles, they just end up abandoning the tigers or selling them off to another non-certified trader.