You might want to think twice before visiting a tiger park on your next vacation. Thousands of tigers are being exploited for entertainment and profit at “tiger farms” masquerading as sanctuaries and zoos across Asia.
Numerous investigations have revealed that the farms are little more than livestock facilities that breed tigers and sell their parts. According to National Geographic, there are up to 6,000 captive tigers in China alone, where tiger pelts are valued by wealthy consumers and tiger bone wine is thought to have medicinal properties.
Despite a Chinese ban on the sale of tiger bones, these facilities take advantage of loopholes and lax enforcement of the law. In fact, the government actually subsidizes some of these breeding programs, according to an investigative report by McClatchy.
Proponents of these farms claim they relieve pressure on wild tigers who are at risk of illegal poaching, but experts say the sale of tiger parts only increases demand. And because some consumers believe the effects of wild tiger parts to be more potent, some facilities may be capturing and breeding wild tigers.
“If there was any indication that they led to tigers in the wild not being persecuted, we would have seen it by now. We haven’t,” Kanitha Krishnasamy from TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring network, told National Geographic.
While they are alive, the tigers often live in terrible conditions, such as small cages where they roll around in their excrement, according to the McClatchy report.
Live tigers are used as entertainment for selfie-taking tourists, and baby cubs are sometimes speed bred to keep up with the demand. This means newborn cubs are taken away from their mothers to encourage them to go into heat earlier than usual and produce additional litters more quickly.
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