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Amur Tiger

CONSERVATION STATUS : ENDANGERED
COMMON EXTINCT
Classification:

Other Common Names: Siberian Tiger
Order: Carnivora
Genus & Species: Panthera tigris altaica
Family: Felidae

Status:

Listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Distribution:

Amur Tigers are found only in the Amur forests of southeastern Siberia with possible remnant populations in Manchuria. Scientists recently changed the name from Siberian to Amur to more accurately reflect where Amur tigers are found – the region around the Amur River where Russia, China, and N. Korea meet. Other tiger subspecies are found in China, India and some islands of Southeast Asia.

Habitat:

Forested areas with water, cover and abundant prey. In the Amur region where Amur tigers are found, the temperature ranges from –40 to 100 degrees F.

Activity:

Primarily nocturnal. Often daytime active in winter.

Size:

The Amur tiger is the largest cat in the world. Males up to 9 feet in body length with 2 to 3 foot long tails; maximum weight in the wild 675 pounds for males and 370 pounds for females. Captive animals may get heavier.

Longevity:

In the wild, 10 to 12 years; 15 to 18 in captivity; occasionally up to 26.

Diet:

Mostly deer, occasionally smaller mammals and birds. Can eat as much as 80 pounds of meat in one feeding or about 65 lbs per week. In the wild, tigers eat red deer, sika deer, wild boar, roe deer, and Manchurian moose. At the zoo they receive, beef, beef shank bones, and a commercially produced blend of horse meat containing vitamins and minerals to specifically meet large cat nutritional needs. Occasionally, they will catch ducks that land in the pond.

Description:

Bold black stripes on gold background. Black and white “flags” accentuate the tail and back of the ears.  Cubs are born with stripes like their parents.

Pupils are round.  Amur tigers have more white coloration than other tiger subspecies for better camouflage in the snow.

Reproduction:

Gestation:   Fifteen weeks; breed winter to early spring.
Offspring:   Usually two to three but as many as six.
Parental Care:    Only mother takes care of cubs; suckles babies for three to six months. Cubs follow females at six months but do not kill until about one year old.  Cubs often stay with mother for two to three years.  Females mature at three to four years and males about one year later.

Ecology, Adaptations, Etc:

Tigers do not like excessive heat and often lie in pools of water to keep cool. Tigers, especially males, are solitary in the wild and do not like to share their range with other tigers. Their roar can be heard up to two miles away; however, a tiger can purr and growl as well. A tiger may bury its kill loosely in brush or leaves and return later to eat. Tigers stalk prey and can leap about 30 feet for the kill. Tigers mark their territories by spraying urine backwards (retromingent urination). Tigers kill more humans than any other large predator because of their close proximity to many agricultural areas particularly in India, but usually avoid people.

Conservation Issues:

Tigers are endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, and illegal harvesting for the Asian pharmaceutical industry.   All subspecies of wild tigers are in jeopardy of extinction. Six of eight subspecies are very rare or extinct in the wild; three subspecies have gone extinct this century.  At the turn of the century, it was estimated there were 100,000 tigers of all kinds in the wild.  Today, there are 5,000 – 7,000. Population estimates for the Amur tigers in the wild are 400-450; the captive population in zoos is approximately 400. For more information, visit the exhibit graphics or the website www.5tigers.org.

The tigers are part of a conservation effort called Species Survival Program (SSP), a program created by American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA).  The program is to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species through the following:

  • managing a captive breeding population (to reduce inbreeding)
  • cooperating with other institutions and agencies  to ensure integrated conservation strategies
  • increase public awareness of wildlife conservation issues
  • conduct basic and applied research to contribute to our knowledge of a species
  • train wildlife and zoo professionals
  • develop and test various technologies relevant to field conservation
  • re-introduce captive-bred wildlife into restored or secure habitat as appropriate and necessary.