There is NO reason to breed tigers (or any other big cat) for lives of confinement and deprivation. The only sanctioned international breeding plans for exotic cats are called Species Survival Plans (SSP) and they are ONLY carried out in accredited zoos.
Ron Tilson, director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo and coordinator of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's captive breeding program for tigers says, "For private owners to say, 'We're saving tigers,' is a lie," Tilson says. "They are not saving tigers; they're breeding them for profit."
Tilson says the exotic animal market is a multimillion dollar industry, ranking just below the illegal drug trade and just above the illegal gun market.
Tilson says tigers are the most charismatic animal on earth. Their appeal is universal. "They are the alpha predator who used to kill and eat us," he says. "We cannot help but be in awe of their power and grace. Tigers represent everything fine and decent and powerful. Everything those people would like to be. It's all an ego trip-big guns, big trucks, and big tigers."
Does Captive Breeding Save Animals From Extinction?
None of the captive breeding of exotic cats is doing anything to save them in the wild. The wild cats in private hands mostly came as zoo surplus and were sold out the back door with no records or pedigrees. Read Alan Green's book, Animal Underworld to see some of the major zoos who were caught doing this. It still happens today.
Those animals were then bred indiscriminately, and many purposely inbred for traits such as white coats, tiny size, and docile (read retarded) temperament. None of the exotic cats in wild hands can be traced back to the wild, other than local cats, cougars and bobcats, who may have been snatched from the wild in the U.S. For that reason they can never be bred for introduction back to the wild.
First, no such programs exist and even if by some act of God all human settlements were wiped out of some vast area and it became suitable for wildlife again, these captive bred cats could never survive. The reason is that their instincts are geographical and a perfect example was an attempt at repopulating the now extinct TX ocelot.
The AZA (American Zoological Association) zoos got together and took captive bred ocelots and released them in TX. The problem was that none of the cats in zoos had come from TX originally because the ocelots in TX had been extinct for a long time. Instead, they had all come from cats who were taken from the wilds of Central America long ago. In Central America ocelots eat snakes because most of them are non venomous. When the zoo bred ocelots were turned loose in TX they reverted to their ancient instincts in search of food and sought out snakes, but the TX snakes were mostly rattlesnakes and the ocelot program died out in a matter of weeks.
There are other reasons, in the real world, why it doesn't work, which includes the fact that human - big cat conflict is one of the main reasons cats are wiped out of areas. Captive breeding not only selectively chooses animals that are least fit for the wild but also conditions the cats to not fear humans. That increases the conflict and the result is that not only would the offending cat be killed, but likely any wild cat seen in the area would be hunted down and killed in a case of mistaken identity. That escalates the extinction of cats in the wild.
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