According to the WWF there are more tigers in US backyards than live in the wild.


I have heard variants of this tale talking about ALL big cats, but I will restrict my question to just tigers.

1 Answer 1


A decade ago, there were more captive tigers in China alone than wild tigers in the entire world. The same was true with the USA.

The 2016, the population estimate of wild tigers was 3890 (an increase from 2010).

Source: Scientific American Blog:

Today, at the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation, officials announced that the estimated number of tigers living in the wild has increased to 3,890.

That represents a fairly dramatic increase from the previous estimate of 3,200 tigers published back in 2010.

Compare that to the number of tigers in captivity in China and USA around 2006:

Source: Taming the Tiger Trade: China's Markets for Wild and Captive Tiger Products since the 1993 domesic trade ban, 2007

In recent years, captive breeding of Tigers in China has accelerated to the point where the captive population exceeds 4000 animals (Govt of China, 2006a). Three thousand specimens are reportedly held by 10–20 “significant” facilities, with the remainder scattered among some 200 facilities (Jenkins, 2006). This makes China home to the second largest captive Tiger population in the world, after the USA, which has an estimated 4,692 captive Tigers, down from an estimated 7,568 in 1997 (Werner, 2005).

These figures may be disputed. The World Wildlife Fund put the US captivity count at 5,000 in 2010. Meanwhile, I found a reference to 'Wildlife Watch Group (2011). "Less than 3,000 Pet Tigers in America". Wildlife Times. 5 (37): 12–13.', but couldn't find the corresponding article.

Whichever figure you use, it is clear that adding the China and USA captivity totals, you greatly exceed the global count of wild tigers, even before other countries' captivity figures are added.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .