Stop murder and exploitation of endangered tigers. Today, there are fewer than 3,200 tigers left in the last remaining 7% of their natural habitat.
While more are lost, their numbers are only increasing in captivity. Worldwide, tens of thousands of tigers are held in zoos, private collections, individuals’ backyards, circuses, the entertainment industry, and ‘tiger farms’. Earlier this year, reports estimated some 6,500 tigers were locked up in twelve tiger farms throughout China, and there are thought to be many more.
Under significant scrutiny is China’s largest tiger breeding operation, the Xiongshen Tiger and Bear Mountain Village in Guilin. Reporters have repeatedly exposed the nature of this facility’s business. Hundreds of small enclosures lined up for what seems like an eternity, all of them holding the precious lives of specimens that no longer belong to a subspecies due to hybridization.
Charging around $12 (USD) per person, patrons are paraded around the “zoo” to see only some of the facility’s animals. “Negative press” is what ultimately ended the sale of “tiger steaks” at this place, but strangely, and of big business, tours still end at a shop where you can purchase a variety of vintage tiger bone wines for just US $95-$293. The rice wine, in which tigers’ skeletons are soaked, are sold as a “tonic” said to have medicinal powers. Somehow, tiger farm proponents refer to this practice as “conservation” of the failing species.
In 1993, the Chinese government passed a ban on the trade of tiger parts that left several loopholes open. Captive breeding is permitted, and there is no legislation against the captive operations’ sale of tiger-derived alcohol, since it does not actually contain tiger parts in them at the time of sale. A fatal combination of captive breeding and the sale of these alcoholic tonics has allowed places like Xiongsen to exploit an unregulated niche that provides consumers with an endless supply for their tiger appetite.
There are numerous reports of starvation coming out of these tiger farms, as well. It makes sense, as it illegal to actually kill the animal, but dead animals can legally be used to make the wine. Operating costs to keep the animals alive and healthy would be astronomical, but neglectfully allowing the cats to perish cuts the costs and ultimately brings in a lot of money. The same reasoning could be carried over to the keeping of numerous felines in a single enclosure. If one of them is killed, it can be legally be turned into wine. “You know, of course, that the tiger is a protected animal but the government does allow us to trade tigers that have died naturally, as a way of helping us financially,” explained Miss Li, a Xiongsen staff member interviewed by reporters from The Daily Mail. ”We have more than 1,500 tigers. There is no lack of raw materials for us. There are a few hundred dead tigers lying in our freezers.”
The Chinese government is both directly and indirectly involved in the fueling of this market that is similar to that of narcotics.