Tiger Tales

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

This is Missouri’s week for tigers, but not all the tiger tales are happy ones.

Today, the St. Louis Zoo will introduce five Amur tiger cubs to the public for the first time. The Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is one of the rarest tigers in the world. At one time, they numbered only about 50 in the wild. Thankfully, rigorous conservation has increased this number to close to 500 tigers in the Amur district in Russia.

Breeding programs like the one for Amur tigers at the St. Louis zoo also help add to the numbers. Unfortunately, though, Siberian tigers raised in captivity don’t typically survive when released into the wild. The only hope for conserving the wild Siberian is to maintain strict conservation.

The St. Louis Zoo is an accredited and highly respected animal preservation center, but the same can not be said about two other animal parks in the state, also in the news this week because of tigers. The tales from these two parks, though, are not happy ones.

In Branson, a 16 year old is in critical condition after being *attacked by three tigers while he was in the cage taking photographs for visitors.

I am amazed that this park would encourage its employees to enter a tiger enclosure just to take a picture for some idiot tourist. I hope the young man lives and sues the park for everything it owns. And I hope our state closes this park down.

Not as much, though, as I hope it closes Wesa-A-Geh-Ya, near Warrenton. The day before the Branson attack, a tiger jumped a fence at Wesa-a-Geh-Ya and attacked a worker cleaning her cage. The worker lost his leg below the knee, but is expected to survive. The animal farm people actually tried to cover up the nature of the attack, saying the man was attacked by pit bull, rather than a tiger. Of course, the attacked man is not supporting this lie.

This exotic animal farm has been under investigation in the past, and has had its public display license revoked. PETA and others have been critical of the establishment, because of the animal enclosures.

Supposedly the owner has offered to give up their animals and have them euthanized (animals from these establishments typically can’t be integrated into zoo populations), but then has changed her mind. The decision should not be up to her, if her cages are such that animals can escape that easily.

I absolutely loath and despise these “roadside zoos” and believe, strongly, they should be closed. Most are poorly managed, and the animals badly cared for. I also do not agree with having exotic animals for pets. We have domestic cats and dogs needing homes that would make wonderful pets; exotic animal pets are nothing more than ego trips for the owners.

update The Branson folks are claiming that the tigers did not attack the boy. That they were trying to help him, after he fell and hit his head, which is why he has severe puncture wounds to his neck.

I hope I will be excused for greeting this with a great deal of skepticism.


Hot Days

We’ve been lucky this summer and had relatively mild weather. However, this week our luck has run out, as we contemplate heat index readings over 115 degrees (46 celsius).

Stay cool.


Beijing on a smoggy day

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I have been following James Fallows’ coverage of the Olympics with interest, specifically because he has been focused on the air pollution that plagues Beijing.

It is unfathomable that a city would put its people at risk by having air quality so bad that it has to take such drastic steps as eliminate 90% of cars from the road and close most of its factories, in an attempt to clear the air for the games. By all accounts, the effort is not succeeding, and rightfully so. If concern about its people does not move the Chinese government, perhaps embarrassment in front of the world will do the trick.

Fallows had written once that he hopes the Beijing games succeed, because if they fail, foreigners in China will be blamed and their lives made miserable. With all due respect to Mr. Fallows, and with empathy to those who are in China for their jobs, I hope opening day of the Olympics dawns a brown, moggy mess.

Thanks to a link provided by Ryan in comments, an excellent review about a new movie, Dark Matter, and its indirect association to our relationship with China, and the importance of the Beijing games being successful. It gave me food for thought, but hasn’t necessarily convinced me to change my opinion. We’re facing a desperate situation, environmentally, and China’s environmental policy hurts not only the Chinese people, but the rest of us, as well. I find that difficult to overlook.