A Siberian tiger tries to catch a chicken released by a gamekeeper to entertain
visitors at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)
But wildlife protection campaigners allege such parks, along with the dedicated tiger breeding centres or "farms" dotted around the country, actually make their big money selling on body parts from the big cats when they die -- a practise which potentially further threatens the endangered species.
Global tiger numbers have plummeted from 100,000 a century ago to only 3,000 in the wild today, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which classes them as endangered, with poaching and habitat loss primary threats to their survival.
Siberian tigers in their enclosure at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin
(AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)
China's tiger farm industry says the trade in captive animals helps to relieve the pressure on wild felines, but wildlife groups argue it reduces the stigma around buying the animals or their body parts, and could create new markets for them.
A Siberian tiger rests at the Siberian Tiger
Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)
Visitors look at Siberian tigers from their bus at the Siberian
Tiger Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)
Big cat in a bottle?
There are only about 45 wild tigers in China, according to EIA. But there are more than 1,000 at the Siberian Tiger Park, which was launched in 1986 with just eight animals.