TIGER, NO LAUGHING JOKE
How is a tiger's face like your thumb?
ANSWER: The stripes on the tiger's face are like your thumbprint. No two people have exactly the same thumbprint. And no two tigers have exactly the same stripe pattern.
It takes a lot of muscle to move a 400-pound body (180 kilograms). And a tiger's body is packed with muscle. So it can leap 10 yards (9 meters) over level ground, or jump 15 feet (4.5 meters) in the air. Yet it can move so gracefully that it doesn't make a sound.
Tigers are big-game hunters. They hunt water buffalo, wild pigs, deer, and other large animals. Water buffalo weigh more than a ton (900 kilograms). It would take 13 men to move such an enormous weight.
Tigers are also big eaters. In a single year, one tiger must eat about 70 deer or other large animals. That is one reason why tigers hunt alone. If they lived in big groups, they could never find enough prey to feed them all.
Many people think that a big, dangerous tiger could easily kill all the prey it wants. But that's not true. In fact, the life of this big game hunter isn't easy. Most of the animals it tries to attack get away. It sometimes goes weeks without eating. And then it may hunt animals that can be dangerous, even for a tiger.
To get enough food, tigers have to hunt day and night. They often hunt at night, because that's when deer and antelope are most active. Tigers also hunt at night because they are safe from humans then.
When it hunts, a tiger usually sneaks close to its prey by hiding behind trees, bushes and rocks.
Tigers cannot run fast for long distances. So they must get close to their prey before attacking. On their huge, padded feet, they can creep silently to within 20 feet (6 meters) of another animal without being heard. Its rear legs press beneath it, like a pair of giant springs about to be released.
Then, in a series of explosive leaps, it attacks from behind.
Next, the tiger grabs its prey with its claws and pulls it to the ground. It bites the animal on the throat or on the back of the neck
The tiger has had a long history; the name tiger itself comes from the Roman word "Tigris", named after the mighty Mesopotamian Tigris River. The tiger's closest living relative is the lion, and believe it or not, they can even be interbred. The male tiger can reach sizes of up to 8-10 feet in length, with three feet for the tail, the male Siberian tiger can reach lengths of up to 13 feet with weights up to 750 pounds. Tigers can be found in a fairly diverse area, from north China and Siberia, to the jungles of Indonesia, even as far west as Iran and the Caucasus Mountains.
The tiger is a solitary animal, hunting mainly at night. The tiger's vision and sense of smell are relatively poor; the tiger will rely strongly on its sense of hearing, moving silently through the brush waiting to ambush its prey. The tiger's main diet consists of deer, antelope, wild pigs, and cattle. The man-eaters are all too often the sick and injured, too weak to hunt and capture wild animals. The tiger would much rather flee rather than stick around and put up a fight.
Tigers are excellent swimmers and will often rest in pools of water just to escape the heat, or, will swim from island to island such as in the Sumatran islands. Tigers are poor tree climbers, often only doing so in emergencies or when they are young, (and on occasion, just out of curiosity). The Bengal, or, Indian Tiger is the
The largest of all living tigers lives in the coldest climate; but has thick fur to keep it warm. Its pale color makes it difficult to spot in the bleak, snowy landscape of Siberia and also makes it easier to get close to its prey. There are no more than 200 Siberian tigers living in the wild.
The Indian tiger is the most common tiger in the world today. In all, there are about 2,500 left, and most of them live in India.
Hunting tigers used to be a sport for the rich people of India. But it wasn't really a sport, because the tigers had little chance of escape. The hunters rode on elephants, while their servants drove the tigers toward their guns. Over the years, thousands and thousands of tigers were killed this way.
Their stripes hide them as they stalk prey in the jungle. How? Their stripes look like the shadows of tall blades of grass, or like shadows and light playing across trees.
For a fierce hunter, you'd think that food would be plentiful. Not true as most attacks fail. There may be weeks without eating.
Some Sumatran villagers believe that the tiger holds magical powers and that it's very bad luck to kill them.
Tigers are among the most admired and most feared animals in the world. When we think of tigers, we think of danger. We think of powerful beasts hiding in the dark jungle. We think of the strong jaws, big teeth, massive feet, and long, sharp claws of the tiger.
But we also think of beauty. We picture a tiger running swiftly through a jungle, or plowing through snowdrifts. Its muscles ripple. Its brilliantly striped orange and black coat gleams like satin. Its steely eyes glare into the distance as it looks for prey.
This animal is a hunter. In fact, tigers are probably better than any other land animal at capturing large prey single-handedly. Even so, the life of a tiger is not easy. Finding food can be difficult, especially for a tiger that is old or weak.
When they are desperate, some of them may even attack humans. But tigers also get blamed unfairly for many deaths. Very few people are really killed by tigers each year. Most tigers run away when they see people. And with good reason.
What tigers have done to people is nothing compared to what people have done to tigers. Over the last 200 years, we have almost eliminated them in the wild. Today, they are one of the most endangered animals on earth.
If humans do not disturb it, a tiger may live 20 years or more. Females usually live longer than males, because the males live more dangerously. They often fight among each other. Sometimes one of them is killed this way, or wounded so badly that it cannot hunt.
It isn't easy for people to tell a male tiger from a female, unless the female happens to be with her cubs, because only females take care of the young. Otherwise, the most obvious difference between males and females is size. Male tigers are much bigger. An adult male Bengal or Indian tiger usually weighs about 420 pounds (190 kilograms), and from head to rear, it is roughly seven feet long (2 meters). Females are about a foot shorter (30 centimeters), and they weigh about one hundred pounds less (45 kilograms). Sumatran tigers are generally smaller than Indian or Bengal tigers. The biggest tiger ever measured was a male Siberian Tiger. It was over 9 feet long (2.6 meters) and weighed more than 700 pounds (320 kilograms).
Tigers once roamed over most of Asia. Some trekked over the frozen north, others climbed the jagged mountains of Central Asia, and many crept through the steamy jungles of the south. The tigers that lived in these different places gradually developed into a number of different types, or races.
Although tigers have been able to live in different climates and landscapes, they have not been able to live alongside people. In fact, people have killed so many tigers that two races may already by extinct.
The Bengal tiger is the most common tiger in the world today. In all, there are about 2,500 Bengal tigers, and most of them live in India. The Caspian tiger is one that you will only see in pictures. This beautiful cat is now extinct. The Chinese tiger used to live in most parts of China. Today, there are fewer than a hundred Chinese tigers in the whole country.
The Siberian tiger is the largest of all living tigers. It also lives in the coldest climate, but it has very thick fur to keep it warm. And its pale color makes it hard to see in the bleak, snowy landscape of Siberia. This makes it easier to get close to its prey. There are no more than 200 Siberian tigers living in the wild.
Sumatran and Javan tigers live on land south of the Asian continent. Their islands are covered by heavy, tropical jungles. To help them run and hide in the jungle, these tigers are smaller than other tigers. Today, there are fewer than 30 Sumatran and Javan tigers left in the wild.
The body of a tiger is like a deadly weapon. It has the quickness and strength to take down animals twice its size. It has long, razor-sharp claws for grabbing its prey. And it has enormous teeth, which can easily kill large animals.
But a tiger is also very quiet. It can sneak up on its prey without being seen or heard. And its stripes help it do this, because they make it easier for the tiger to hide. You will also discover another reason why a tiger's stripes are interesting. You can learn to tell one tiger from another by its stripes.
Like other cats, tigers usually keel their claws hidden beneath the fur. This way the claws do not wear down too quickly. And they won't make noise when the tiger steps on rocks or hard ground. When it wants to use its claws for grabbing or scratching, the tiger will extend them.
Tigers have longer canine teeth than any other predator. One of these teeth is at least 10 times longer than the biggest tooth in your mouth. Using its big canine teeth and its broad, powerful paws, a tiger can kill its prey with one quick bite.
Tigers and other predators play an important role in nature. By killing deer and other prey, they keep the numbers of these animals under control. And because of this, the animals that survive are healthier.
If there were no tigers in the wild, the number of prey animals would grow too fast. At first, they would eat so much that they would destroy many plants. And then many of these animals would go hungry.
A big, hungry tiger can eat about 100 pounds of meat (45 kilograms) at one sitting. This is about one fifth of its total weight. That would be like a 10-year-old human eating 40 hamburgers in one meal. Of course, a tiger has to eat this much because it often goes several days without eating anything.
On occasion, a tiger will attack a baby rhino. This can be dangerous though, because the mother rhino is probably close by. And even a tiger does not want to make a four-thousand-pound rhino (1,800 kilograms) angry!
If a tiger is hungry enough, it may even attack a bear. But that may be a big mistake.
Baby tigers look like cute kittens. At birth, they are about 12 inches long (30 centimeters), and they weigh less than two pounds (one kilogram). But in a year's time, these "kittens" will be big enough to hunt deer and buffalo.
A mother tiger usually gives birth to two, three, or four cubs at a time. This is necessary so that at least one of her cubs will survive. Many predators attack tiger cubs. To help keep them safe, the mother stays with her cubs for three or four years. During this time, the young tigers have a lot to learn from her if they are to hunt and survive on their own.
Animals, unlike man, must either capture prey, or, evade predators. In order for these animals, such as the tiger, to get close enough to its prey for the attack, these animals must be able to hide, or blend in with the background. That way the prey animal does not know that they are there…
The tiger uses what is known as disruptive camouflage, which means that instead of blending in with it's surroundings, the tiger uses it's stripes to break it's outline, or familiar shapes into smaller unfamiliar shapes.
Like all young animals, cubs are full of energy. They spend their days wrestling, chasing each other, and darting after butterflies. All this exercise helps prepare them for their first real hunt. And they are ready for this when they are about six months old.
It's hard to believe that in just six months, a playful little cub will be a ferocious hunter. By then, it will weigh almost 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and have four big canine teeth for attacking prey.
A female tiger is one of the most loving and caring mothers in the animal kingdom. She cuddles her babies to keep them warm. She feeds them and protects them from enemies. For three years or more she looks after them, teaching them how to hunt and survive in the wild.
This cub is only a few weeks old. In the wild, cubs are usually born in caves and other protected places. The mother keeps them there and brings them food for about three months. After that, the cubs are big enough to follow her as she hunts for prey.
The life of a baby tiger can be dangerous. If a mother leaves her cubs, even for a short time, they may be attacked by predators. Some of the animals that like to eat tiger cubs are leopards (left), pythons (below left), and hyenas (below right).
CLOUDED LEOPARD: PRECIOUS CARGO
One chapter in the Zoological Society's clouded leopard story began early in 1983 with the arrival of a young pair of cats from the People's Republic of China. The cats were a welcome addition to the Society collection. Staff prepared a plan to encourage successful breeding, but unfortunately, tragedy occurred before the plan could be implemented.
In the exhibit, the female was accidentally exposed to a male, which severely mauled her right foreleg and shoulder. The injury was so severe that, because of the initial trauma and resulting fast-spreading infection, amputation of the leg and affected scapula were required to save her life.
The difficult surgery was masterfully conducted. Intensive care was required for more than two months. The veterinary staff and a hospital team kept the cat alive through repeated tube-feeding and frequent hands-on care, despite the cat's aggressive distrust of such treatment. Following many weeks of this regimen, the cat responded and made sufficient recovery to allow her return to the leopard exhibit.
A primary hurdle had been cleared -- the female had survived the injury. Next to be resolved were her adjustments to life on three legs and finding a method which would allow her reintroduction to the Chinese male.
First, the mammal staff placed the cat in a program designed to help her grow accustomed to life with three legs. After several months of satisfactory progress, the staff decided to place her with the male, who had been kept in a separate but adjoining room. The animals were allowed to make contact as they chose. To the relief of all, the reintroduction was successful. The cats proved to be compatible, and, shortly after reintroduction, breeding took place.
On the morning of April 25, 1984, final proof of the success of a long and difficult management program arrived-- a litter of two cubs. One cub did not survive, but the other was taken to the Children's Zoo to be raised by the nursery staff.
The clouded Leopard has intrigued its public, been sought after for its fur, and mystified those who would try to categorize it. During the early morning hours of April 25, 1984, a discovery was made which was the culmination of a saga, which held elements of zoo diplomacy and goodwill, tragedy and suspense, cooperation and success. The discovery climaxed a chain of events surrounding this paradoxical cat.
This cat has behavioral and physical traits typical of the small cats, genus Felis, and the big cats, genus Panther. A paradox to taxonomists and zoologists, it has been assigned to its own genus, Necrfelis, and is considered a bridge between the two larger genera. A relationship to the extinct saber toothed cat has even been suggested, based on the physical characteristic of having, in proportion to body size, the longest canines of all living felines. Its canine structure is also similar to that of the saber-toothed cat.
The clouded leopard has a body size ranging from 24 to 42 inches (616-1,066 mm) Its tail adds another 21 to 36 inches (550-912 mm) of length. This leopard's weight falls between 35 and 50 pounds (16-23 kg). Its fur is grayish brown to tawny yellow and has dark markings in a variety of shapes, which seem to form cloudlike patterns.
The clouded leopard was once believed to be exclusively arboreal and nocturnal. Recent observations in captivity and in the wild indicate, however, that it may be considerably more terrestrial and diurnal than previously thought. It is believed to prey upon birds, young buffalo, cattle, deer, goats, monkeys, pigs, and porcupines. The species is difficult to manage in captivity because of a tendency to be highly aggressive toward other species and humans. The exceptionally long canine teeth can easily inflict mortal injury. True to its paradoxical reputation, however, some cats may become extremely affectionate toward humans, even permitting and seeking physical contact.
NORTH CHINESE LEOPARD
This leopard is so rare that humans almost never see it in the wild. It roams the forests and mountain meadows of northern China and Korea.
It makes its home in a great tangle of fallen trees and shrubs. When it kills smaller animals it devours them right away. But when it comes to larger prey, like deer and wild goats, the leopard drags the animal home to save for several meals.