A picture of a Siberian Tiger.


The Tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat currently in existence.

A picture of a Siberian Tiger.

A Siberian Tiger living in a Zoo.

All tigers are of one species but there are different subspecies in the wild. Tigers are spread out over a large area mainly on the Eurasian continent — too large an area for all of them to have a chance to interbreed, thus distinct subspecies can emerge. The one in the picture above is a Siberian Tiger and he lives in a Zoo in Szeged, Hungary.

Because of hunting by humans, and habitat destruction the wild tiger population has shrunk to a few thousand, and tigers are considered to be endangered.

Interestingly there are lots of tigers living in captivity, especially in the USA. Most of these are not pure bred one subspecies or another, but the descendants of various tigers that were imported at one time or another.

Because tigers all belong to the same species, it is hard to understand while some people think of captive bred mixed tigers are just junk tigers and treat them as something unworthy to be even considered real tigers.

Any sort of breeding program aimed at conservation automatically excludes tigers of mixed parentage.

We humans really do think that somehow we were put in charge of all species on Earth, and we have the divine right to decide who lives and who dies. After we have managed to reduce the number of tigers in the wild to near extinction — sometimes killing them for the only reason so that some rich moron can have the illusion of enhancing his virility by consuming the pseudo-aphrodisiac made from the tiger’s genitals — we start to pick and choose which of the remaining tigers will even be allowed a piece of the future.

A critically endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera Tigris) pacing in its enclosure in the Toronto Zoo.

A critically endangered Sumatran Tiger (Panthera Tigris) pacing in its enclosure in the Toronto Zoo.

What if some evil overlord had decided that we city dwelling human mutts could not survive in the wild, and should be eliminated? Not so funny any more?

Sumatran tiger.

A close up of the same (I think) Sumatran tiger.
This picture was taken on a different day.

So, how dare we, humans declare that a tiger that is a mix of more than one subspecies is not a tiger any more. Unfortunately self anointed environmentalist always love their double standards. Was it written in stone somewhere that animal species must remain as they are now? I think a guy named Darwin argued just the opposite. Who are we humans to decide that if tigers are allowed to exist in the future at all they must be pure bred tigers not some unthinkable mongrels? After all, the captive tigers just did what they needed to do to perpetuate their kind, even if it meant cross breeding with a mate of a different subspecies — not considering that their offspring will no longer be pure bred. From an evolutionary point of view that was the right thing to do.

Amur tiger.

Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), Budapest Zoo.

Do we humans have the right to make a decision at all? We are not talking about accidentally wiping out a species, but making a decision that some of the remaining tigers no longer qualify as tigers, and they have no right to be protected as members of an endangered species. Do we consider the morality or the rationality of such decisions at all? Has anyone actually produced proof that captive bred mixed tigers are evolutionally inferior to pure bred ones, or is it just more convenient to assume that, because it gives us the right to eliminate them?

No, I am not advocating tigers as pets. I think one must be insane to keep an animal that would consider eating his master as a pet. Yet one wonders what will happen to all those captive mongrel tigers if restrictions on tiger ownership become stricter, yet breeding programs don’t want to take them.

Since the tiger population in the world is dwindling away, should we not try to preserve every single tiger we can?

Further Readings:

Tiger on Wikipedia.
4 continents for tigers
Tigers at Zooville USA
Last updated: January 22, 2015