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The Staggering Amount of Pet Tigers in the United States

Why there are more tigers in captivity than in the wild


What's going on?

The tiger is well known for its yellow and black striped fur and its size and is categorized as one of the big cats. While tigers are a vital predator in the animal food chain, the population has decreased to a staggering number and is now classified as an endangered species – with only about 3,900 left in the wild. On a global scale, there are about 1,700 tigers kept in zoos. However, there is an unconventional location where tigers also can be found.


In America, about 5,000 tigers can be found in captivity, kept either as pets or in various sanctuaries. Shockingly, this number is a low estimate with the top estimate reaching up to 10,000 of the big cats, which is more than the number of tigers in the wild. This is made possible by the lax legislature on bringing animals into the United States. However, the other side of this practice is also the hazards involved. Occasionally, there are reports of caretakers and visitors being injured by the tigers with some fatal cases. The tigers are not to be solely blamed for this, as they are kept in enclosures that are not suitable for big cats, and their caretakers may not have been properly trained as well.


Over the past decade, there are also reports of tiger farms being set up to fuel the trade of tiger parts for traditional medications with a huge demand from China. All these travesties add up to the abuse of these majestic animals and endanger the longevity of this species. While there have been many efforts to save the tigers with policies and legislation such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, the future of tigers remain unclear, particularly in the United States.


Captive tigers in the U.S. outnumber those in the wild. It's a problem.