There are many declawed and even detoothed tigers as pets. People like to think they are sort of overgrown tabby cats. They just have to have one, in the same way they have to have a new and larger car or the biggest fridge.
Of course a 400 pound tiger eats 5,000 pounds of meat annually, which probably means these pet tigers are feed badly with attendant health problems. The cost of keeping a tiger is exorbitant. According to Big Cat Rescue the cost of keeping a medium sized wild cat in captivity for 2 years is about $67,000. Then you have the danger even without their claws and teeth. Do you think a tiger looks anything other than extremely sad in a cage? Or on someone’s sofa in the house? That just looks ridiculous. You see it though, some silly macho man showing off his best buddy a 400 pound tiger while watching the television.
Some people who keep tigers as pets claim they are doing their bit for conservation. Balderdash. Complete rubbish. It does nothing for conservation. Conservation is about trying to preserve tiger habitat and the tiger’s prey. If some of the extravagant expenditure on keeping pet tigers was funneled into real conservation it may make a small difference. Not that conservationists are going to win the battle against bid business involved in tiger parts. That battle is already lost I believe.
Tigers won’t become totally extinct. There will always be an inbreed, generic (moggie) tiger in a zoo somewhere.
When a person who fancies a tiger cub as pet wants to get rid of it because he is too big and eats too much someone has to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it is actual pieces. Some of these tigers probably find their way into tiger bone wine and other weird tiger products.
In 1996 Betty Young, in Arkansas, looked after 52 tigers. Some of them were housed in her home, which was reduced to a mess as expected. She has a 10 acre site. She was almost a cat hoarder only each cat was 40 times heavier.
I suppose she was just doing all she could, just like many good women do all they can to help unwanted domestic cats or look after stray and feral cats. But it was madness. It was trying to do the impossible, surely.
People breed tigers just as they breed domestic cats and thereby make matters worse. They are simply adding to the problem.
See the original story on National Geographic and my thanks to Rudolph for telling me about this. I have taken the liberty of publishing one of Mr Nichols photographs here. I hope that is OK.