The "tiger king" would be more annoying if he had focused on the big cat trade

Albino tigers are often simply captives bred for specific, informal traits.

Albino tigers are often simply captives bred for specific, informal traits. (Uriel Sobaranes / Unsplash)

This story first appeared The conversation.

Netflix's new documents Tiger King takes viewers into the strange world of big cat collectors. With eccentric characters with names like Joe Exotic and Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, the series touches on polygamy, addiction and personality cults, exploring a mysterious disappearance and a murder plot.

For Allison Skidmore, Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz candidate for wildlife trade, the documentary did not pay enough attention to the scourge of captive large cats.

A former park ranger, Skidmore first began studying the issue in the United States after the famous death of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in 2015. He was shocked to learn how small the state's oversight was. I asked her about the legitimacy, the incentives and the ease of buying and selling tigers.

How many captive tigers are there in the United States?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. The vast majority of captured tigers are crossbreeds, so they are not identified as members of one of the six subspecies of tiger.the tiger of Bengal, the tiger of Amur, the tiger of South China, the tiger of Sumatra, the tiger of Indochina and the tiger of Malaysia. Instead, they are classified as "general."

Less than 5%or less than 350The captured tigers are being managed through the Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums, a non-profit organization operating as an accreditation body in the United States. They ensure that accredited facilities meet the highest standards of animal care required by law.

All the rest are private tigers, which means they do not belong to one of the 236 institutions funded by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These are generally considered and do not fall under federal supervision.

There is no legal requirement to register these general tigers, nor a comprehensive national database to monitor and monitor them. The best children's guess is that there are about 10,000 tigers in the United States. Estimates put the world's captive tiger population as high as 25,000.

By comparison, there are less than 4,000 tigers in the wildfrom 100,000 a century ago.

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<caption>The new docu series <Tiger King> gives viewers a look at the poorly regulated exotic animal trade in the US. (Netflix /)</caption>
<p>How do tigers change hands?</p>
<p>The law on endangered species and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna species prevent the importation of tigers by nature. Thus, all tigers in the United States are born in captivity, with the rare exception of an orphaned wild cub that can end up in a zoo.</p>
<p>Only purebred tigers, one of the six final subspecies, can be seen. These are the tigers you see in places like the Smithsonian National Zoo and generally belong to the Species Survival Plan, a breeding captive program designed to regulate the exchange of specific species threatened with extinction among members of zoos in order to genetic diversity.</p>
<p>All other tigers are housed in zoos, shrines, carnivals, wildlife parks, exhibits and private homes that are not required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They can change hands in a variety of ways, from online shopping to exotic animal auctions. They can be purchased for just $ 800 to $ 2,000 for a cub and $ 200 to $ 500 for an adult, which is less expensive than many purebred dog puppies.</p>
<p>Can I legally buy a tiger?</p>
<p>The United States is plagued by complex and vague laws on tiger ownership.</p>
<p>However, there are no federal statutes or regulations that explicitly prohibit the private ownership of tigers. State and local jurisdictions have been given this power, and some prohibit or require permits. Thirty-two states have prohibitions or some prohibitions and 14 states allow ownership with a simple license or permit. Four states <b>–</b>Alabama, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada<b>–</b>they have no form of surveillance or regulation at all.</p>
<p>There is no general, coherent framework for regulations and even in states that prohibit private property, there are gaps. For example, in all three countries, landlords can apply for a so-called "federal permit holder", which is extremely cheap and easy to obtain and violates stricter state or local laws.</p>
<p>Now you need a permit to transport tigers to government lines, but there is no permit for intra-Community travel yet.</p>
<p>What is this for owners?</p>
<p>Some see it as a business venture, while others say they are interested in maintaining it. I think the last reason is non-existent.</p>
<p>Many facilities are promoted as wildlife sanctuaries or sanctuaries. These places frame their reproductive and exhibition practices as management, as if they are contributing to the survival of an endangered animal. The reality is that no captive tiger has ever been released into the wild, so it's not like these facilities can raise wild populations. A real sanctuary or shelter should have a strict reproduction or handling policy and should have educational programs designed to promote conservation.</p>
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Power supply with bottle in a "pseudo-sanctuary" in southern California. (Allison Skidmore)

After all, tigers are big money makers, especially tigers. The law for the good living of animals allows the parasite from the age of eight to 12 weeks. People pay $ 100 to $ 700 for pets, bottle-feed, swim with, or take a photo with a small one.

None of this profit goes to keeping wild tigers, and this small opportunity window for direct public contact means that exhibitors must constantly reproduce tigers to maintain a stable supply of small hunters.

The value of young children decreases significantly after 12 weeks. Where do all these tigers go? Unfortunately, due to a lack of regulatory oversight, it is difficult to understand.

Since many states are not accountable for their live tigers, there is also no oversight on the reporting and disposal of dead tigers. Wildlife criminologists fear that these tigers could easily end up in the black market, where their parts could be as high as $ 70,000. There is evidence of American tycoons dominating the domestic black market: In 2003, the owner of a tiger "rescue" was found to have 90 dead tigers in freezers on his property. And in 2001, a covert investigation by the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service led to the prosecution of 16 people for the purchase, sale and slaughter of 19 tigers.

What is the role of social media?

The introduction of tigers on social media platforms such as Instagram and dating apps has become a huge problem. Not only can it pose a health and safety hazard to both humans and tigers, but it also encourages a false narrative.

If you look at thousands of photos of tiger captives, it covers the real problem of endangered tigers. Some may wonder if tigers are really so threatened if they are so easy to put up with.

The reality of wild tiger destruction has crystallized behind the embrace and charm of social media. This marginalizes important ideas for keeping and the actual condition of tigers as one of the most endangered big cats.

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