Riverside Discovery Center will be celebrating International Tiger Day Wednesday July 29, 2015. Their two Amur tigers will receive exciting enrichment for the public to observe when RDC opens at 9:30. Riverside staff will be talking about tiger conservation with the public, and will have several tiger activities to engage children about these magnificent creatures as well. “We will also have an exciting announcement about the future of our tiger exhibit,” said executive director Anne James.
“International Tiger Day is an annual observance aimed at raising awareness of the importance of tiger conservation. Here at Riverside Discovery Center we are proud of our two resident Amur tigers, and are excited to celebrate them with the public,” said Amber Schiltz, education curator.
The global observance was established in 2010 at the International Tiger Forum that took place in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The International Tiger Forum was the world’s first “tiger summit”, and led to the adoption of the Global Tiger Recovery Program. The anniversary of its adoption was declared International Tiger Day. The observance focuses on raising public awareness of tiger conservation issues, and promoting the protection of their ever dwindling habitat.
The tiger is the largest cat species on Earth. Over the past century, tigers have lost more than 90% of their historic range. At the start of the 20th century, the global population of tigers in the wild was estimated at 100,000 individuals, while as few as 3,200 exist in the wild today, scattered among 13 countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Habitat loss aside, the tiger’s most prominent threat to its survival is poaching. According to World Wildlife Fund, every part of the tiger, from the whisker to the tail, is traded in illegal wildlife markets. The high price and demand for tiger parts is driven by traditional medicine, folk remedies and as a status symbol among some Asian cultures.
With continued support for global cooperation and conservation, there is still hope. According to World Wildlife Fund census results in Russia, the highly endangered Amur tiger population rose as much as 10% in the last 10 years.
“I am pleased to see that the number of Amur tigers in Russia has increased in all the key areas where WWF has been working for many years,” said Igor Chestin, Head of WWF-Russia. “This success is due to the commitment of Russia’s political leadership and the tireless dedication of rangers and conservationists in very difficult conditions.”
With only 3,200 wild tigers left, there are now more tigers in captivity than in the wild. “Although we are honored to have two of these amazing creatures here at Riverside Discovery Center, we hope that by raising awareness and educating the public about the plight of these beautiful animals, we can prevent the idea of tigers being just a zoo exhibit or distant legend, and they can once again flourish in their native habitat.”