The tiger, Panthera tigris, is the largest member of the family Felidae and the largest cat in the world. A solitary cat, the tiger is also an ambush predator and uses the distinctive stripes of its fur as “disruptive camouflage” to hide in plain sight.
The tiger’s historically expansive range—once spanning from Turkey to the eastern coast of Asia in Russia and China—has been dramatically reduced and now covers less than 6% of its original area, with a 42% decline since 2006. Breeding populations of tigers are currently found in eight states across it’s present range: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, and Thailand. There is some evidence of breeding populations in China and Burma (Myanmar) from 2009 to 2014 though they are not considered “stable”, relying on immigration from surrounding states.
Tigers are an incredibly adaptable and versatile species with ranges in a wide array of different ecosystems, from tropical forests and jungles of Asia to the taiga of eastern Russia. One sub-species, Panthera tigris altaica, commonly known as the Siberian Tiger, persists in the Russian Far East. Tigers have also been observed in higher elevations, as high as 14,700 feet in Bhutan.
Prey consists mainly of medium-sized ungulates, but these large cats are opportunistic predators and will predate on small animals such as birds, fish, rodents, insects, amphibians, and reptiles as well as other mammals such as primates and porcupines. Tigers also take prey much larger than themselves, including large bovids, elephants, and rhinos.
The Tiger’s distinctive coloration and stripe pattern is a key tool in monitoring population numbers. The pattern of each tiger’s stripes is an individualized characteristic approximate to a human being’s finger prints.
The Conservators Center is currently home to three tigers, two of which were born at the Center after a USDA placement of 11 lions and tigers seized from poor living conditions in 2004. Of the animals who arrived at the Center in 2004, the one female tiger was pregnant and gave birth to four cubs. The Center's fourth tiger, Axl, lives at the Greensboro Science Center in Greensboro, NC on an education loan.
The Conservators Center does not breed, nor has it bred any large cats. These species are well represented in captivity and as such they do not meet the requirements for our conservation breeding program.
Arthur, a white tiger with few stripes, is an assertive, playful boy who never really grew up. His blue-green eyes somehow contain both a childlike wonder and a soft intelligence. His best friend in the world is Kira Lioness, and he lets her run the show. Arthur is famous, and he acts like he knows it. He once ran for president. He has his own Facebook profile, and shares storybook fame with Kira (children’s book available from the Center’s gift shop). He is thrilled when visitors arrive on weekend mornings for special tours where he earns treats for showing off his beautiful feet and belly.
Handsome, goofy Wic was born at the Center in August of 2004. Most of his life has been spent living with lions (the only big cats that live in social groups) and that has made Wic more social than most tigers, but—like most tigers—he still loves water. After being a fabulous roommate for 14 years, he recently moved into a well-deserved enclosure all to himself. He seems to be relishing in having his own space (tigers, after all, are usually solitary cats!) and can often be found galloping around and chuffling merrily at visitors and his former roommates, Katrina and Savik Lionesses.