The combination of habitat loss, population fragmentation, and poaching are pushing the tiger to the brink of extinction. To protect the animal, the tiger is listed as endangered by both the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species List and the Red List of Threatened Animals compiled by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a nongovernmental organization that compiles global information on endangered species. The tiger is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which makes it illegal to trade tigers or tiger parts.
In addition to conservation initiatives in the wild, zoos play a critical role to help the tiger’s endangered status. Tigers breed readily in captivity, and several thousand live in zoos and private animal facilities. Most zoos now collaborate to manage the breeding of captive tigers in order to maintain maximum genetic diversity within the captive tiger population and to prevent any one zoo from becoming overpopulated with tigers—a situation that causes crowding and unhealthy living circumstances for the tiger. The presence of tigers in zoos helps ensure that the tiger will never become extinct, no matter what happens to tigers in the wild. In addition, tigers in zoos serve as ambassadors for wild tigers.
Scientific classification: The tiger is a member of the cat family, Felidae, in the order Carnivora, class Mammalia. Its scientific name is Panthera tigris. In the past scientists have classified tigers into eight subspecies, five of which are still living. In this classification system the Amur tiger is classified as Panthera tigris altaica, the Bengal tiger is Panthera tigris tigris, and the Sumatran tiger is Panthera tigris sumatrae. The Indochinese tiger is classified as Panthera tigris corbetti, and the South China tiger is Panthera tigris amoyensis. The three extinct subspecies are the Caspian tiger, classified as Panthera tigris virgata; the Javan tiger, classified as Panthera tigris sondaica; and the Bali tiger, classified as Panthera tigris balica.
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