The mating and courtship of the tiger

Mating - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Fighting for a Female | 3&4: Copulation | 5&6: In Captivity

Breeding in captivity:

Tigers breed freely in captivity. They often live and stay in family groups until the offspring are transferred to another captive facility to continue the planned bloodlines.

Such easy breeding of an animal creates a problem that is less than obvious to most people. On the surface it would seem that any species which breeds so well in a zoo should be safe from the threats of extinction, at least in captivity, if not in the wild. Worryingly, this does not always apply and some people are concerned for the future of captive tigers.

Thirty years ago wild swine, like the Vietnamese pop bellied pig and the African giant forest hog were in very much the same position as the tiger is today. In captivity they bred freely. They were attractive and popular with visitors. But they bred to such an extent that many zoo directors took the decision to cease their breeding programmes.

All was fine for a time, until illness and death began to take the pigs. Zoo directors started to look for replacements, but few could be found. None were able to be bought in from the wild as there were worries about the potential for passing disease to domestic pigs. As a consequence, wild swine are now close to extinct in American zoos.


Some keepers already worry that there are similarities developing with the tiger, particularly with the Amur subspecies. Many zoos have their tigers on long term contraceptives and it is possible that the population could age to such an extent that there would no longer be enough fertile tigers to maintain the captive population.

Even if the present cats are, in a few years, once again allowed to breed the reproductive condition of the animals will have declined. And many wonder what the outcome will be if there is a problem with so-called 'reversible' controls. To prevent problems like this will require detailed management of the tiger.

Another answer for the excess of tigers is euthanasia or culling. This is an emotive issue and the destruction of any wild animal, including the old and very sick, brings protestors to their defence. For this reason, though euthanasia goes on in zoos on a daily basis, it goes on very quietly and most of the public never know of it.

Artificial insemination:

There is one recorded occasion of a white Bengal tigress beginning to ovulate without having had any contact with a male.

Although an isolated case, in the future this may assist with more success in the area of artificial insemination in big cats, a process which has, to date, mostly failed.

Occasionally there are tigers which simply refuse to mate, or share quarters with females, even when they are in heat. One of these lived for 16 years in Jaipur Zoo, India. During his life he never once mated and actually killed two tigresses he was paired with.

(Continued Page 6)

Mating - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Fighting for a Female | 3&4: Copulation | 5&6: In Captivity

Mating | Early Days | Raising Cubs | Hunting & Captive Feeding | Water Play | Sleeping | Tree Climbing
The Man-Eater | Myths & Facts | Conflict with other Animals

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Photography With Thanks To Hasuda Torauma (Photo 2)
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