Tigers

Tigers are descended from civet-like animals called niacis that lived during the
age of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago (Dang, 1994). These small
mammals, with long bodies and short flexible limbs, evolved over millions of
years into several hundred different species, including cats, bears, dogs and
weasels. About 37 cat species exist today (Dang, 1994). Tigers evolved in
eastern Asia , but it is not exact. Sabre-tooth tigers are not the ancestors of
today\'s tigers. In fact, sabre-tooth tigers belonged to a separate branch of cat
evolution which became extinct many millions of years ago. The Siberian or Amur
tiger lives primarily in eastern Russia, and a few are found in northeastern

China and northern North Korea. It is estimated that 437-506 Siberian tigers
still exist in the wild (Tilson ,1995). About 490 captive Siberian tigers a re
managed in zoo conservation programs (Tilson, 1995). The South China tiger is
the most critically endnagered of all tiger subspecies. They are found in
central and eastern China. It is estimated that only 20-30 South China tigers
are left in the wild (Dang ,1994). Currently 48 South China tigers live in 19
zoos, all in China (Dang ,1994). The distribution of the Indochinese tiger is
centered in Thailand, and is found in Myanmar, southern China, CAnbodia, Laos,

Vietnam, and penisular Malaysia. About 1,180- 1,790 Indochines tigers are left
in the wild and about 60 live in zoos (Tilson, 1995). Bengal tigers live in

India, and some range through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The
estimated wild population is approzimately 3,060- 4,735 tigers, with about 333
in captivity, primarily in zoos in India (Dang, 1994). White tigers are just
white-colored Bengal tigers. They ae not a separate subspecies of tiger, and
they are no albinos. They have blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur with
chocolate colored striipes, White tigers are only born when two tigers that both
carry the unusual gene for white coloring mate, Wild white tigers are very rare,
and todayt they can only be seen in zoos. The Sumatrain tiger is found only on
the Indonesian island of Sumatra. About 400-500 wild Sumatran tigers are
believed to exist, primarily inthe island\'s five national parks (Dang, 1994).

Another 235 Simatran tigers live in zoos around the world (Dang, 1994). Three
tiger subspecies have been considered to become extinct in the past 70 years (Tilson
,1994). The Caspian tiger, known as the Panthera tigris virgata, once ranged in

Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, and Central Asiatic area of Russia and
probably went extinct in the 1950\'s (Tilson, 1995). The Javan tiger, Panthera
tigris sondaica, formerly ranged on the Indonesian island of Java and was last
seen in 1972 (Tilson, 1995). The Bali tiger, Panthera tigris balica, once lived
on Bali, where the last tiger was believed to have been killed in 1937 (Tilson,

1995). Tigers have social behavior. Adult tigers are solitary animal that
establish their territories in areas with enough prey, cover and water to
support them. The hardship of loating prey in tiger habitat makes it more
efficient for tigers to hunt alone. As a result, they do not tend to form social
groups like lions. A female tiger and her cubs are the exception to this, and
will form a family group for 2 to 3 years, until the cubs are able to fend for
themselves (Dang ,1994). The territory of a tiger usually ranges in size from
about 10 to 30 square miles, although the territory of a Siberian tiger may be
as large as 120 square miles (Tilson, 1995). Both male and female tigers spray
bushes and trees along their route with amixture of urine and scent gland
secretions. This is a way of declaring their territory. They also leave marks on
trees, and urinate or leave droppongs in prominent places. Female tigers reach
maturity when they area bout 3 years old and males reach it when they are a year
or so later (Dang, 1994). In temperate climates, a tigress comes into heat only
seasonally , but in tropical climates, she may come int heat throughtout the
year. She signals her readiness with scent marking and locating roars. The brief
act of copulaiton occurs continually for a five day period. Tigers are induced
ovulators, and must be stimualted through frequent copulation in order to become
pregnant. To stimulate ovulation the male tiger\'s penis has spines. This
explains in part why the female roars and lashes out at the male immediately
following copulation. After mating, the period for tigers is about 103 days (Tilson,

1995). The average litter size of tigers is 2 or