A Visit to China’ s Siberian Tiger Park

China has been trying to save these endangered animals through active breeding programs. The Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has bred over 1,000 Siberian tigers since its opening in 1986, when it had just eight of the big cats.

51-year-old keeper Wang Zhanjun has been working here for over 30 years.

“I feel honored to work here as a tiger keeper. After all not everyone has such opportunity to stay close with them. I really love my job to take care of the tigers and the cubs. I will miss them if I can’t see them everyday.”

Wang said there are risks in taking care of tigers, but the park has adopted security procedures. Everyday, he must shut two doors before entering the tiger houses and must check three locks before leaving.

“We swing the door open, let the mother tiger go outside to separate the mother and the cubs.
Come, baby. Go out, go.
(Mother tiger went out. Wang closed the door)
For safety, we also close this door, for double security.
(Wang opened another door)
Now I will go inside to feed the cubs.”

The newborns are extremely senstive to temperature changes. Keepers have to monitor them 24-hour everyday.

“We put this baby tiger into a incubator to increase its body temperature. When it’s warm enough, we will bring it back to its mother. Everyday, when we feed cubs, we will measure their body temperature. If it’s high or low, cubs will receive veterinary treatment and have some medicine and nutritional supplements.”

There were over 40 tiger breeders in the park, most of them male. Breeders observe each and every tiger everyday, making sure they are in good condition. They also feed cubs and clean the tiger houses.

“This tiger cub is only one month old. Look, it loves the goat’s milk. It’s good for tiger babies’ digestion. It drinks 70 milliliter.”

Siberian tigers mainly live in eastern Russia, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. Only 20 wild tigers are believed to exist in northeast China.

There are now about 1,000 Siberian tigers in the park. In the past 10 years, in order to protect good genes of the species, the center has been adopting birth control for Siberian tigers. Only those in the key group have the opportunity to breed, ensuring the quality of the species.

The park has also been carrying out training program to improve the tigers’ capacity of living in the wild.

Live animals are served to keep and sharpen up the predator’s nature in the tigers.

The park established a scientific and research centerin June on the tigers’ artificial feeding and wilderness survival training.

SOUNDBITE: MA JIANZHANG, Academician of China Engineering Academy
“We trained captive-bred tigers in order to release them to the wild, reinforcing the wild population. This is the main task of our workstation.”

Chinese forestry authorities has shut down commercial logging in the Greater and Lesser Hinggan Mountains, to help restore the ecosystem, and to revive wild Siberian tigers.

In recent years, traces of wild Siberian tigers were constantly found in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province and Jilin Province, which borders Russia.

It’s estimated that traces of wild Siberian tigers have been found in Heilongjiang province alone over 400 times by May.

SOUNDBITE: MA JIANZHANG, Academician of China Engineering Academy
“There are quite a large number of wild tigers in Russia. For tigers, it’s borderless. We could attract tigers to come to our side. But we have to consider the wirenetting near the border. If we could solve the wire properly, it’s quite hopeful for tigers to return to the wild.”

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