Learn all about the endangered tigers species.
Millions of years ago, tigers roamed all over Asia. Tigers originally existed in Northern China, ranging into Siberia, where they grew to an enormous size, weighing as much as 700 pounds and standing over 8 feet tall. They survived by hunting prey which included wild boar, grizzly bears, and they even fished salmon from the rivers. But during the last great ice age, tigers were forced to migrate as far south as the island of Bali and as far west as the Caspian sea. During this great migration the tiger went through many changes, adapting to its new habitats.
Over tens of thousands of years as they moved south, they became smaller. The Balinese tigers, for example, were a hundred and fifty pounds fully grown. They could survive living on a diet of frogs, birds, and small mammals. The tigers made other adaptations as well. Besides changing in size, they changed in color. Many people do not realize this, but tigers once came in many colors just like house cats. Tigers could be jet-black, snow-white, royal white, and even tabby in color. These unique colors were the first to disappear as tigers were hunted to near extinction. There was one maharaja in India who reportedly killed more tigers personally than exist in the world today.
Tigers are incredible growing machines. They weigh around half a pound at birth and can fit in the palm of your hand. As they begin to grow, they gain a half a pound a day, on average, for the first couple of years of their life. This means that a 1-year-old cub weighs close to 300 pounds. The small birth size of tiger babies is a great benefit for the mother tiger. Tiny babies allow mother tigers to stay in top physical condition so they can track, hunt, and kill prey as large as young elephants, small rhinos, and even buffalo a day or so before giving birth, and just a few days afterwards. Vegetarian animals can have larger, more cumbersome pregnancies because they don’t have to hunt down their prey, since the broccoli can’t exactly run away as fast as the buffalo can.
Tigers have far superior teeth to those of the other members of the big cat family including the lion, leopard and jaguar. Not only do they have a sharpened peg of a tooth but their teeth narrow down to a razor sharp edge at the back making the tigers bite much more lethal. Armed with these incredible teeth, tigers are able to bring down prey as large a grizzly bears, rhinoceros and even small elephants and they do this all on their own. Lions are able to hunt large prey but they usually have to do it in groups, called prides.
The Royal White Bengal tiger was simply a myth before the maharaja of Rewa, India, brought the last white tiger cub out of the wild and in 1952. Until recently, white tigers have been displayed in only a few locations around the world. The Royal White tiger is not a separate species of tiger but a unique color that enabled them to exist in the snow covered Himalayas for thousands of years. But the Royal White tiger was also found in the darkest forests of India. There it is assumed that they lived on animals like antelope which are color blind and could not see the difference between a white and black to an orange and black tiger coming. Some of the tigers favorite menu items, like monkeys and peacocks, would not be easy prey as they can see color and would see a white tiger coming from a mile away.
The Golden Tabby tiger is one of the world’s rarest big cats. This type of tiger became extinct in the wild in 1932 when the last two were shot in Mysore Padesh, India. From work done by us at the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species and our breeding partner Dr. Jossip Marcan we have brought back from the very edge of extinction the Golden Tabby Tiger. The Golden Tabby tiger is a white tiger with red stripes and a red saddle pattern. It has none of the black coloration of a standard Bengal tiger of a Royal White Bengal tiger. We are very proud to say that since the first birth in 1987 that their are now more than 30 Golden Tabby tigers in existence today.
Want to see one of these amazing animals up close and personal? Contact T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve in Myrtle Beach or Preservation Station.