Fewer than 500 Amur Tigers Remain in the Wild

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s newest addition, a ten-year-old Amur tiger named Changbai, has completed her quarantine period and is now on exhibit. After arriving on January 12, 2017 from the Philadelphia Zoo, the last three months were devoted to making her familiar with her new home. Once she was comfortable with her surroundings, Chang made her debut at Connecticut’s only zoo in April to the delight of zoo guests.

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are very rare, and are critically endangered in the wild. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, today’s tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. Arguably the most endangered big cat remaining in the wild, Amur tiger numbers have dropped to fewer than 500. The future of the Amur tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years.

Managed by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place. Chang was sent to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo as an excellent genetic match to the Zoo’s resident male tiger, Petya.  Chang can be seen in her new exhibit in the Predator area, near the Café.

“Chang is a beautiful tiger and is getting along very nicely with our Zoo staff, and with Petya,” explained Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “We gave her ample time to become comfortable with her new surroundings, and now she’s very much at home in her exhibit.”

Visitors will be able to meet Chang between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily, in the Predator area near the Cafe.

“The Zoo’s breeding program exists to bolster the dwindling number of animals still in the wild,” explained Dancho. “It’s a real testament to our Zoo’s strong reputation for working to protect endangered species and to educate our guests about them. It’s an important part of our mission and we’re justifiably proud of that.” 

About Amur tigers

The Amur, or Siberian tiger, is a rare subspecies of tiger, and the largest cat in the world. Adult male tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds, with females weighing up to 350 pounds. Chang is small for a female Amur tiger, weighing 297 pounds. Similar to people’s fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Amur tigers differ from other tigers with fewer, paler stripes, and a mane that helps to keep them warm. They live in southeast Russia as well as small areas of China and North Korea. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 22 years in captivity.