Skip to main content

International Tiger Day

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

Think about Tigers

Think about Tigers

Global Tiger Day

International Tiger Day is sometimes termed Global Tiger Day. It takes place each year on the 29th July. A relatively new celebration it was first initiated in St. Petersburg in 2010. As the name suggests this is a worldwide event.

The primary aim of International Tiger Day is to draw the worlds attention to the plight which tigers face in the wild AND in captivity.

This year both Good Zoos and Bad Zoos will be hosting events to raise money for Tiger Conservation in the wild. Some Bad Zoos will pocket the cash or use it for their own personal Tiger schemes. Other Bad Zoos may hand all of the money over to genuine conservation projects as a form of bribe so the conservation body will turn a blind eye to the activities carried out by these collections.

Tigers need our help. They badly need our help but this should never be at the expense of sacrificing morality.

It is hoped that everyone with a heart will help our tigers this International Tiger Day.

The Threat To Tigers From Zoos

It may surprise many that one of the biggest threat to Tigers is Zoos. Not all zoos but to that huge group of Dysfunctional Zoos which are spread all over our planet.

Good zoos manage their tigers. All of their animals are managed through co-operative breeding of the various sub-species. These are registered in official studbooks. Their lineage is known. They know exactly what sort of tiger they have. Breeding is controlled. Tigers are not short lived and there is only a certain number of places to hold these animals within the co-operative of good zoos. Not breeding is often as important as breeding. There must be homes in good zoos for grown cubs to go to. These zoos are looking to the future, looking a hundred years ahead when it is hoped we might actually be in a position to release viable populations of tigers to a safe and secure wild. Right now it is impossible.

Meanwhile around the Globe there are countless thousands of tigers of unknown origin and these continue to breed without check. These animals are conservationally useless. They are being bred purely for commercial exploitation or to satisfy the 'Tarzan Complex' of some very peculiar mixed up people. These are the Dysfunctional Zoos. These are one of the biggest threat to tigers worldwide.

What are you going to do?


White Tigers and Dysfunctional Zoo Threat

White Tigers are not a species or even a subspecies and yet countless zoos keep and breed these animals. They are all cross bred and many of them are hybrids. These zoos know this. They know they are of no value to conservation and yet they persist in breeding them. This is purely for commercial gain. There must be nearly as many white tigers in captivity as there are wild tigers in India. I say 'must be' because nobody knows how many there are. None of these animals are registered. They don't appear in the records of any collection other than the collection they are in and that is if the collection as any records in the first place. I was once offered a job managing a collection of 200 white tigers. I turned it down.

It is not just White Tigers. There are thousands of what are best described as 'Heinz 57' variety tigers. A mix of different sub-species, all of them valueless from the point of view of conservation or prospective involvement in any future release programme.

The best thing that these tiger holders can do is 'get real' and stop adding to the problem. They should stop breeding what are in effect 'useless animals'. They should offer them the chance to live out their natural lifespan and educate the publicly honestly and effectively about their animals and the threats that our tigers are facing. They are 'our' tigers. They belong to our world.

All breeding, and especially hand rearing should cease. Dysfunctional Zoos look for every and any opportunity to hand rear so they can financially exploit the animals from an early age. Often the explanations they give for hand rearing are lies. Some collections offer the pitiful excuse that they can make a better job of rearing the cubs than the natural mother. In truth, if proper care and facilities are at hand probably close to 100% of female tigers will rear their young naturally and without human interference.

International Tiger Day

What can you do on International Tiger Day?

So what can you do on International Tiger Day? If you work in a zoo you can set this day apart from all others to celebrate the tiger. You can draw your visitors attention to the very serious and severe threat that our tigers are facing. It doesn't matter if you don't keep tigers. Tigers are mega carnivores. They are at the top of the food chain. If we lose tigers in a forest then everything....that is everything lower down will be thrown out of sync. Tigers in a jungle are an indicator that nature is in harmony and all below is healthy. If we lose the tigers it is rather like a pack of cards falling over. The other species will follow one by one and this will include the forests themselves. By helping the tigers we are helping ourselves and so much else as well.

Scroll to Continue

If you don't work in a zoo then read through the articles below. Become aware. Don't have the wool pulled over your eyes. It doesn't matter how big or famous a zoo is. If they are walking tigers or letting you feed the cubs or keep white tigers at all you need to ask questions. Don't believe the hype on the websites or their publicity leaflets....remember they write these themselves to try and justify themselves. They are wrong. They need to change and deep down they all know it.

Whoever you are you need to make people aware of the threats tigers are facing in the wild from poaching deforestation and climate change. Some sub species of Wild Tiger could actually disappear in your lifetime.

At the very least send a link to this article to someone and if you have a little cash to spare on Global Tiger Day make a donation to Fauna and Flora International, an organisation which genuinely cares.

Learn More About Tigers

Below you will find a list of some of my other articles on Tigers and the problems they are facing today:

The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi Thailand

Sri Racha Tiger Zoo

Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai

White Tiger Breeding is Not Conservation

What Do Tigers Eat In Zoos?

Declawing Tigers And Lions

The Terrible Truth About Tiger Farms

Siberian Tigers Starve To Death

Why Did They Not Dart The Tiger?

Pigs and Dogs and Tigers

Playing with Lions

Tiger Bites And How To Avoid Them


Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 26, 2013:

I Just did a search and the Cincinatti Zoo boasts that these animals have been found in India. When I lived in DE, I know that the Philadelphia Zoo had two cubs. I happened to find them AND PLAYED WITH THEM. They were in a back portion of the zoo not even in a cage. How do these things happen? These are major zoos that have big names.

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on July 25, 2013:

Thanks AliciaC. I appear to be fighting a losing battle trying to educate people on this one. Too many bad zoos out there.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 24, 2013:

Thank you very much for the information about the captive tiger situation, Peter. It sounds like a very sad state of affairs.

Related Articles