Management and Conservation of Captive Tigers

Preface by Ronald Tilson, Minnesota Zoo

This manual began as a descriptive account of tiger husbandry in North American zoos. As more and more information was gathered, its scope expanded to topics beyond day-to-day husbandry. This reflects the Tiger SSP's orientation that we are responsible for more than just managing tigers in captivity; we are obligated to contribute to the conservation of wild populations as well. Thus, the other editors and I have attempted to achieve a balance of focus on care in captivity and conservation.

In compiling the manual, we found that there were captive management issues that did not have a single or simple solution. There were other issues for which there was little or none or only anecdotal information available. Some issues were strongly polarized. To resolve these dilemmas and to find a balance, we organized the manual around chapters written by primary contributors, many of whom had already written on these issues in Tigers of the World. These chapters were then reviewed by members of the Tiger SSP management group and the editors. Through this process, it became evident that for many management issues there is more than one way to manage tigers. Their comments and additional information from other authors were incorporated in the final draft. We wish our readers to know that we view this manual as a living document that will benefit from future revisions that will only be possible by receiving your written criticisms and comments.

The next step in the process was to produce a European version for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which was undertaken by Sarah Christie. The joint SSP and EEP tiger manual will then be culturally and technically adapted to Asian standards so that it can be translated into the languages of the tiger's range countries.

We wish to express our appreciation for the support of the Calgary Zoological Society's Conservation Fund, which provided financial support to publish and distribute this manual. Their support enabled us to distribute a copy to every zoo participating in the Tiger SSP. It will also enable to us provide copies to every zoo in Asia participating in regional captive management programs for tigers, particularly in the countries of China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia as well as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. This fulfills one of the highest priorities for the conservation of tigers identified in the Tiger Global Animal Survival Plan, which is to transfer knowledge and skills from AZA zoos to zoos located within the tiger's range. Greg Tarry, former Tiger SSP management group member, made this happen.

This manual would not have been possible without the laborious efforts of the contributors, particularly those of Mitch Bush, Lyndsay Phillips, and colleagues, whose chapters form the core of this manual, and the reviewers, particularly Jill Mellen, for their thoughtful comments and ideas. The dedication and hard work of the other editors helped bring all of the disparate views and opinions into focus.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge my tiger mentor, Ulie Seal, for his inspiration and trust; my Director, Kathryn Roberts, for her unfaltering support; my colleague in tigers, Gerry Brady, for his companionship; and my counterpart in Indonesia, Jansen Manansang, for allowing the Tiger SSP to begin its Asian odyssey for tiger conservation. They were in step with me all the way in this journey.