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The Siberian Tiger

The Tiger is the biggest of all the big cats.  The biggest subspecies of Tiger is the Siberian Tiger, Panthera tigris altaica.  Actually, some people disagree with this statement and suggest that the Bengal Tiger, Panthera tigris tigris, is just as big.  Certainly they are both big animals.

Size

An average Male Siberian Tiger is about 3.2 metres (10.5 feet) long, and weighs around 260 Kg (570lb).  Females are smaller.  However, as with most animals, there is considerable variation in size and there have been reports of Siberian Tigers massive even by the standards of this gigantic subspecies.

Although it is the biggest cat still in existence, the Siberian Tiger is not the biggest predator in much of its range.  The Brown Bear is bigger.  The Brown Bear is an omnivore, but will certainly hunt and kill for food.

Other Names

The Siberian tiger is also called the Amur, Manchurian, Altaic, Korean or North China Tiger. 

Genetic research has shown that the Caspian Tiger, Panthera tigris virgata, was virtually identical to the Siberian Tiger, despite some slight physical differences. The Caspian Tiger is probably extinct.

Food

The Wild Siberian Tiger eats both large and small animals.  It will eat things as small as rabbits, and as large as Red Deer and wild horses.

Although some of its prey is fairly defenceless, this predator will kill quite dangerous animals.  In some areas, the main prey animal is the wild boar, which can certainly put up some defence, but the Siberian Tiger will also kill and eat Brown and Black Bears. There have certainly been also reports of Brown Bears killing Tigers.

Critically Endangered

The Siberian Tiger is considered to be critically endangered in the wild.  The Russian government is making attempts to save this animal.  But poaching and habitat loss are pushing this magnificent creature towards extinction as a wild animal.  It is estimated that in 2009 there were only about 500 wild Siberian Tigers, and that the numbers were decreasing.

Genetic Diversity

Genetic studies suggest that this subspecies has a low genetic diversity; so low that the numbers may have been greatly reduced in the recent past.  This makes its chances of survival as a wild animal even lower.

Captivity

There are several hundred Siberian Tigers in captivity and they are reasonably easy to breed. The genetic diversity of the captive population is higher than the wild ones.  This animal can survive as a zoo specimen, but there are great difficulties in reintroducing them to the wild.

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