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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 11:48 GMT
Rare Siberian tigers found dead
By Quentin Sommerville
BBC News

Siberian tiger cub (archive image)
China has seen a boom in Siberian tigers born in captivity
Two Siberian tiger cubs have been found dead in a refrigerator at a Chinese zoo less than a week after another incident involving the endangered species.

They were found in a ticketing office at a wildlife park in China's central Hubei province.

Tiger body parts are treasured as medicines in China.

On Thursday a female Siberian tiger was found dead in the same area. Thieves had broken into its cage, tranquillised the animal, then butchered it.

That tiger's remains were found by zoo keepers.

It had been beheaded and skinned, and its legs had been removed.

Only an estimated 400 Siberian tigers still remain in the wild.

Trade ban

China was once the biggest market for tiger parts, which are prized for their medicinal qualities.

Tiger fur is also a status symbol in some parts of the country.

But Beijing banned domestic trade in all tigers in 1993.

Tiger parts are now largely unavailable from traditional chemists.

However, the country has pushed for a reopening of the business, based on farm-bred, captive animals.

Around a dozen private tiger farms operate under government licence.

Most have been heavily criticised for the poor conditions of their animals.



SEE ALSO
Baby boom for endangered tigers
17 Jun 07 |  Science/Nature
End of the tiger tale?
13 Jun 07 |  Science/Nature
Call to tame China's tiger farms
14 Jun 07 |  Science/Nature
China criticised for 'tiger wine'
18 Apr 07 |  Asia-Pacific
India tigers 'in rapid decline'
24 May 07 |  South Asia

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