Tigers at Home in the Bronx Zoo
Tiger Mountain trainers talk to Scholastic kid reporters about the importance of zoos in keeping tigers alive.
By Quinn Jacobson, Scholastic Kids Press Corps
Tigers are in danger because people hunt them for their fur. Also, their habitat is being cut down to make way for roads, farms, and homes. The tigers suffer because without trees and other parts of their habitat, they can't hunt for food.
Another problem is that tigers are being trapped and kept as pets. They are not eligible for zoos or breeding because they are not part of the global species survival plan. Zoologists keep track of family traits and backgrounds of every animal in the species survival system. Introducing an unknown animal could cause disease and lead to extinction.
"They may be cute and cuddly when you get them as a little cub, but when they grow up, they're extremely dangerous and people think that they're like a domestic cat," said Linda Corcoran of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The WCS, which is headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, works on getting laws passed to make it illegal to own big cats as pets.
"We helped pass a federal bill to prevent the interstate trade and importation of a wide range of great cats as pets," said Sara S. Marinello, assistant director of government affairs for WCS. "Right now, we're getting involved in the same sort of thing with primates (monkeys) as pets."
"We don't force the animals to do anything they don't want to do," the trainer explained to us when the tigers showed no interest in the meat. It was a really hot day and the mother/daughter tiger team in the exhibit preferred to sit in the shade.
The zoo has six tigers: four females and two males. They are separated at night. Only a few tigers are put into the viewing portion of the exhibit at a time.
"In each exhibit we can house a mother/daughter pairtwo femalesbut if a male came out, we would only house them singly, because they are solitary animals," the trainer explained.
Tiger Mountain has been open since 2003. It recently won an award for its realistic living space. There's even a tiger pool. Unlike house cats, tigers love water. You can watch the tigers swim and play in the pool.
You can learn more about how to help tigers by visiting the Tiger Mountain Web site.