Tiger Penis For Sale - third jar from left - Sichuan, China. Photo by ahdont™
I think the Chinese are switching from the tiger's penis to Viagra to cure their impotence. Hurray! Long live the tiger. However, this information comes from a report dated October 2005 in the The Medical News and since then more tigers have been killed for their body parts including their penis, which incidentally sells for $6,000 (USD as at 2008) (see Bengal Tiger Facts). It is probably the most expensive piece of animal material in the world and probably the reason for the deaths of many magnificent wild tigers. In this report it states that Chinese men are selectively switching from traditional Chinese medicine to Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction but sticking with traditional medicine for some other ailments.
Well, there goes the tiger again. A large number of Chinese still believe that the body parts of animals can cure their ailments. And the doctors who practice traditional Chinese medicine haven't yet decided to do what they do in the west and substitute animal parts for human-made ingredients, which are no doubt actually effective because I am convinced that a tiger's penis, for example, has absolutely no impact on erectile dysfunction. Why should it have? It is strange that there is a clear connection between "erectile dysfunction" and cats, but there is and it is a very profound one indeed going to the core of the survival of the world's most popular animal.
Also despite the widespread availability of aspirin, a highly effective pain killer and indeed many other pain killers, many Chinese prefer to ingest crushed tiger bone for pain relief. Has anyone done any research on the chemistry behind the Chinese belief that tiger bone alleviates pain? I would be certain that it cannot be proved in chemical terms so it must be a placebo effect. Meanwhile the tiger is being decimated! The Wikipedia author says that there is no science supporting this. The author says that, "The use of tiger parts in pharmaceutical drugs in China is already banned". And agrees that this is nonsense as there is widespread farming of tigers for the very purpose of producing tiger parts. In fact, products like tiger wine can be bought at these farms. And as for CITES, this organisation seems to have no impact whatsoever on the hideous tiger part business.
Back to the revered tiger penis. According to Tigerhomes.org, dried white tiger penis is even better for erectile problems! I wonder why? I suppose the argument goes that the white tiger is rarer (and rarer still being killed for its penis). The white tiger is the same as the orange tiger except for a genetic mutation that dilutes the color of the hair. So there is no difference. More Chinese medicine mumbo jumbo, I guess. Tigerhomes.org also says that China, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and the other Asian countries are the places where this ignorant practice takes place. And yet we cannot just blame Asia for the demise of the tiger. We in the west are equally to blame for standing by and watching it happen. And let's not forget that in places like Britain many large animal species were extirpated many, many years ago by the British. Parts of Europe are no better. The Balkan states come to mind and the hunting of the Lynx as one example (see e.g. Lynx hunted in Romania).
Back to tiger penis! The everything2.com website provides us with a classic Taiwanese recipe for tiger penis soup that serves 8 (8 men, I guess). It is served at the Pu Chung Pao restaurant in Taizhong, Taiwan. It cost $400 (not sure if that is USD):
- 1 tiger penis, dried
- 24 other spices and medicines, which include ginseng, bear gall bladder, rhino horn and tiger bone.
- the penis is soaked in water for a weak
- the whole messy lot is simmered for 24 hours or so.
Apparently some other tiger body parts are believed to do the following to the person who consumes them:
- heart - gives strength and courage
- tail - body rub for skin problems
- bones - put in wine for rheumatism
- brains - body rub to cure acne
- eyes - turned into pills for epilepsy
- whiskers - cure for toothache
As it is still cheaper to kill and export the body parts of a wild tiger than to farm them, I wonder how long it will take for their complete extinction in the wild?
Tiger Penis photo by ahdont™: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.