A white Siberian tiger escapes from a private wildlife refuge, bites girl, gets put to death.
July 30, 2001 7:32 AM   Subscribe

A white Siberian tiger escapes from a private wildlife refuge, bites girl, gets put to death. State law requires an animal that has bitten a human and hasn't been vaccinated for rabies to be put to death so they can examine the brain for rabies. Or, the human that is bitten can be vaccinated for rabies. The girl's family doesn't want her vaccinated because she's had negative reactions to shots in the past, so the tiger dies. Tests for rabies are negative.
posted by jnthnjng (62 comments total)

 
aren't these tigers, like, an endangered species?
posted by moz at 7:46 AM on July 30, 2001


I feel sorry for the tiger. I feel worse for the little girl.
posted by lileks at 7:47 AM on July 30, 2001


If the story is correct, health officials did not know if a 10-day quarantine to look for signs of rabies works on tigers the way it does on dogs and cats.

Considering that, I don't see what choice they had but to kill the tiger. After seeing what a "safe" DTaP vaccination shot did to my five-year-old son last week (a week-long, burning-hot, four-inch-wide welt where the shot was injected), and reading on how much worse his reaction could have been, I don't blame the parents for not letting their seven-year-old get rabies shots.

Besides, why should an animal that dragged a kid off in its throat be allowed to live under any circumstance?
posted by rcade at 7:47 AM on July 30, 2001


All tigers have been classified as an endangered species since 1972. According to this page, from 200 to 400 Siberian tigers live in the wild and around 1,000 live in zoos and other facilities.
posted by rcade at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2001


You know who fault this is? Tiger's owner. For putting a little girl in a position where the tiger could bite her. We shouldn't blame a curious 7-year-old for acting like a curious 7-year-old; we shouldn't blame a tiger for acting like a tiger. But the guy who owns the tiger should have known better. Either your security is sufficient, or it's not and, if it's not, you are being not only lax in your responsibilities to the public, but lax in your responsibilities to the tiger.
posted by UncleFes at 8:06 AM on July 30, 2001


Which came out: the lady or the tiger?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 8:18 AM on July 30, 2001


> Besides, why should an animal that dragged a kid off
> in its throat be allowed to live under any circumstance?

Because, as UncleFes pointed out, the poor tiger was just acting like a tiger. If you don't like tigers pouncing on little wiggly creatures that crouch down in front of them, you just don't like tigers.

I hate zoos. If endangered animals need to be protected and bred, fine, then protect them, breed them. Otherwise, you should never lock up animals for lines of dopey tourists to stare at. I would rather never see a tiger than see one in a cage.
posted by pracowity at 8:42 AM on July 30, 2001


the Tiger did not "drag her off by the neck".

rcade: Try getting the story straight before making claims like that.
posted by Qambient at 8:45 AM on July 30, 2001


Agreed. Zoo's are terrible places for animals they go insane locked up and have very bad records of animal abuse. If the word gets out about Zoos and the Circus its criminal what goes on and the govt doesnt have the resources to police it.

Ayn Rand'ers might say animals are here to serve us .. but I say how we treat our pets is a reflection of how we treat each other. Sorry to be bleeding heart about it, if your neighbor has a dog and is kicking it every day you gotta say somthing.
posted by stbalbach at 8:50 AM on July 30, 2001


the Tiger did not "drag her off by the neck". Try getting the story straight before making claims like that.

I meant to say that it dragged the kid off in its mouth, not its throat. Considering the facts from the story ...

The cat grabbed the girl in the shoulder and armpit and carried her about 30 feet before dropping her when Nancy Kraft hollered.

... what difference does your correction make? Is armpit and shoulder dragging within the boundaries of acceptable animal behavior?
posted by rcade at 9:02 AM on July 30, 2001


rcade: well, tigers do tend to pick up their cubs in their mouths by their shoulders. so, in answer: yes. of course, picking up humans by their shoulders is probably more alarming for most people, but that just brings us back to the whole "how should a tiger act besides as a tiger" quandary.
posted by moz at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2001


Is armpit and shoulder dragging within the boundaries of acceptable animal behavior?

Acceptable to whom? To the tiger, it's more acceptable than standing on its hind-legs in a circus. You've seen how tigers carry their cubs around, I assume?

A number of animals at John Aspinall's zoos have killed their keepers; in most cases, they were spared. This case is of course different, because the poor little girl wasn't in a position of responsibility, but it still challenges your blanket assertion that animals should be killed for behaving naturally in unnatural surroundings.
posted by holgate at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2001


The death of such a rare animal is saddening, but this is a tough situation. It's a loss to biodiversity, and puts us that much closer to losing an important species. And whoever was in charge of the tiger's care showed pretty poor stewardship.

That said, I think that the course of action that was taken was the best possible one considering a tough situation. I am most certainly not an expert on rabies or medicine, but I've heard that giving a human an anti-rabies vaccine is a terribly painful and dangerous experience. When I last heard about it (about 10 years ago), it was a 30-day long ordeal in which the side effects can be excruciating and may even lead to death. I can only imagine that the difficulties of the standard course of treatment would be complicated by adjusting dosage for a seven-year-old.
posted by nicolotesla at 9:12 AM on July 30, 2001


Suggest sacrifice tiger owner, examine skull content for any evidence of brain. (None predicted...)
posted by jfuller at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2001


And yes, I hope the people in charge of the reserve get a good arse-kicking. There's a reason why, when I was in Nepal, we went through a half-hour "tiger briefing" just in case we bumped into the local male on his rounds.
posted by holgate at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2001


I'm not an ethologist. Actually, I don't know a dammn thing about tiger behaviour. However if a siberian tiger carries a 7 year old child 30 feet and only leaves two wounds two inches deep it's obvious to me that it had no intention to harm the kid.
posted by rdr at 9:19 AM on July 30, 2001


Otherwise, you should never lock up animals for lines of dopey tourists to stare at.

Then you won't have those animals. Zoos generate a lot of money for animal breeding programs and research.

I agree that the conditions of a lot of zoos are deplorable - I remember the Lincoln Park Zoo as one of the worst examples I had seen (disclaimer: I was 16 at the time, conditions may have changed).

However, eliminating zoos also will eliminate a lot of the public support for rescueing these animals. You need people to be able to see these creatures so that they appreciate what is being saved. It's quite likely you wouldn't raise nearly enough money without this exposure.

An example of this exposure effect is how "camera safaris" have actually been quite good at increasing the populations of rare animals. See Douglas Adam's "Last Chance To See" for more information on that. Plus, it's a damn interesting read.
posted by hadashi at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2001


And whoever was in charge of the tiger's care showed pretty poor stewardship.

Well, with luck, he'll be sued right down to the skidmarks on his underdrawers and the remaining animals now in his "care" will be shunted off to the relative safety of the local zoo. Perhaps any cubs might be reintroduced into their habitats.

I've always wondered about those people who keep large, dangerous predators and open those pitiful little "Big Kat Kountry" deals. This certainly isn't the first time this has happened - I remember not too long ago some guy's little daughter got ate by his "pet" tiger (they put down that cat, too, iirc). What prompts those people to think that they can effectively secure these animals? It's a high dollar proposition, out of the range for normal folks. And let's be honest - a tiger, no matter how friendly, is still an effing TIGER, and under the right cirucmstances it will eat your ass.

I just can't get a handle on the thinking that prompts this. "Hey, honey, you know what'd be fun? Let's buy a tiger!" I mean, wtf?
posted by UncleFes at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2001


I'd say it's "acceptable" in the sense that that's what a tiger is supposed to do. That's the nature of a tiger. The problem is that it was allowed to get itself into a situation where it could do this to a human.

As to the whole zoo debate, I agree that it would be much better if these animals could live free in the wild, but I think that zoos serve a couple of positive functions. First of all, they allow people to see the diversity of animal life in the world, and in doing so, educate people of the need for conservation in the wild. If zoos did not exist, there would be far fewer people willing to donate money to "save the tigers" or other very worthy causes. If people aren't able to see them up close, they're not very likely to feel strongly about saving them in the wild.
Secondly, as mentioned, they can be used to breed animals and increase their population. Many of these animals have rapidly shrinking habitats and might even have a rougher life in the wild. Until the cause of their shrinking habitat is addressed adequately, a large pen at the zoo may be its best option, which is a very sad situation. (As a side note, NPR and National Geographic had an interesting Radio Expeditions program on morning edition a couple of weeks ago about connecting tiger habitats in nepal)
posted by jnthnjng at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2001


Dammit, hadashi beat me :)
posted by jnthnjng at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2001


I'm under the impression that, since a tiger is an endangered species, it's illegal to "buy" them. Anyone know how private places like this are allowed to own rare and endangered animals?
posted by jnthnjng at 9:29 AM on July 30, 2001


I think it's like getting a variance when you build something that violates local code - you petition your local or state government, show why you want to do so (I would guess they use the excuse that it will be a revenue generating business, and will consequently generate tax money) and the governmental body issues them a "Ok to break the law" waiver. Happens all the time, usually when a business want to construct a building that violates local building codes in some way, like overlarge signage or something.
posted by UncleFes at 9:33 AM on July 30, 2001


For example, I know a WWII memoriabilia collector who owns a fully operational 57mm howitzer (no shit!); now, it is totally illegal for schmucks like you and I to have howitzers, but if you are wealthy (he is), a collector (he is), and you are willing to go through the ringamarole (he was and did), you can get a license that allows you to own a howitzer :)
posted by UncleFes at 9:39 AM on July 30, 2001


A friend of mine had a tiger for a while as a sort of "rescue" from people that had a lot of wild animals and were no longer able to care for them. She had a federal license (from the USDA, I think) and a permit from the state wildlife people (this was in Oklahoma City). She had him in a huge cage in the backyard until he was about two years old and finally found a permanent home for him at a preserve in the eastern part of the state.

Large cats, bears, etc. were legal in Oklahoma City up until last year, when the city council banned them. There were quite a few people that were having to pay huge fines because they couldn't find anywhere to send their animals. Zoos usually won't take them, since their blood lines can't be proven.
posted by moosedogtoo at 11:01 AM on July 30, 2001


now, it is totally illegal for schmucks like you and I to have howitzers

No it isn't; it is illegal to have an unregistered howitzer, and to purchase a registered one legally you have to have the right license. I'm not sure if it is a full FFL or you just need a C license. There is a lot of stuff on the C list; the Swiss Solothurn 20mm cannon is one I'd love to have if I didn't mind paying up to $5 per round to fire it...

However, UncleFes *is* right - you'd better have a fair amount of money (like, enough land to fire a beastie like that because your local gun range isn't going to let you do it), and be prepared to jump through about a million hoops to get the right licenses and other nonsense.

What this has to do with tigers I'm not sure. It's not like I'd have to register my tiger, and they're lousy for concealed carry.
posted by hadashi at 11:09 AM on July 30, 2001


6,000,000,000 humans:1,500 tigers

Kill the kid to see if it has rabies.
posted by rushmc at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2001


So they had to kill the little girl and look at her brain to make sure she didn't give the tiger rabies. What's the problem again?

What kinds of licenses do I need to breed exotic cats?

If you breed and sell exotic cats, you will need a USDA breeders or dealers license. You will be expected to conform to all the regulations in the Animal Welfare Act. Additionally, to purchase endangered felines in interstate commerce, USDI requires that the buyer register with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit before any commercial activity is conducted.
source

Damn! Rush slipped in ahead of me because I was getting the link right. Foo!
posted by dhartung at 11:25 AM on July 30, 2001


Kill the kid to see if it has rabies.

rushmc: I'm certain you'll be doing your part to make that ratio better, right?

You can find all sorts of resources at this link.

Thanks for doing your part. Please, if you would, leave all of your possessions to a charity dedicated to saving endangered wildlife.
posted by hadashi at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2001


6,000,000,000 humans:1,500 tigers

Kill the kid to see if it has rabies.


I hope that was a bad joke...
posted by nicolotesla at 11:31 AM on July 30, 2001


Frankly, when you come down to it, why the hell in this day and age are we stuck with the brain autopsy (and fluorescent antibody detection therein) as the only reliable way to diagnosis rabies? It seems such a shame to kill and get a negative result. This is the 21st century, dammit -- we're genetically modifying animals, creating clones, breeding astrochimps ... is this the best we can do? Kill it to examine it?

Back in junior high, I was riding my bike one day and some girl I wasn't sure I even knew told her German shepherd "sic 'em!" It chased me into the street and bit my leg. The dog was destroyed, I avoided a rabies shot series, and the family now had a real reason to hate me, and were probably the ones responsible for the rash of vandalism we had that year.

I'll never forget that. I very clearly heard her command the dog. (As a result I never blamed the dog.) She denied it and said that it was my reaction to the dog that caused her to attack me. Unh-unh -- I grew up with dogs and get along fine with them. The police considered criminal charges but it was a he-said-she-said thing. In today's climate I can't image the DA letting it go, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2001


Just reminds me how lucky we Brits are to be in a rabies-free zone.
posted by holgate at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2001


Sheesh, Dan. She said "sic 'em"? If you remember the name of that vicious tyke, Google her and use Classmates.Com to see if she's changed her name. I'd love to find out what happened to the little Torquemada.
posted by rcade at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2001


Just reminds me how lucky we Brits are to be in a rabies-free zone.

Just don't bite the cows...
posted by rushmc at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2001


I hope that was a bad joke...

Not at all. Put simply, I value that tiger higher than that girl.

Let me put it into perspective for you: imagine instead of the 1500th tiger left in the world, it was the very last one. Change your perspective at all? Probably not, but if so, then do a little research into the necessary requirements for sustainable genetic diversity in a species.
posted by rushmc at 11:56 AM on July 30, 2001


Put simply, I value that tiger higher than that girl.

The Siberian Tiger Species Survival Plan already has 50 more captive Siberian tigers than it needs for breeding in North America, according to this American Zoo and Aquarium Association report.

Relevant quote: "The Siberian tiger managed population includes about 100 tigers in North America, with another 50 or so designated as surplus to the breeding population."

Just out of curiousity, how many "surplus" tigers do we need before one of them is worth less than a seven-year-old girl to you?
posted by rcade at 12:16 PM on July 30, 2001


"hold that tiger, hold that tiger" down and pass the saw. and a pelt to boot.
posted by clavdivs at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2001


They claim 100 Siberian tigers in their managed breeding program. With another 400-500 known to exist worldwide in the wild. So the population is significantly lower than previously estimated in this thread.

The 50 other tigers referred to as "surplus," it seems to me, are simply not a part of their breeding program. There are a number of more likely reasons for this than assuming that 100 individuals is sufficient breeding stock for genetic diversity (which claim is NOT made in your link): limitations of funding, organization, ownership and permission, genetic suitability, etc.
posted by rushmc at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2001


imagine instead of the 1500th tiger left in the world, it was the very last one.

let's do another thought experiment: imagine they didn't kill the tiger, kept it in quarantine, maybe even did a brain biopsy without killing it, and came up with no evidence that the tiger was rabid after ten days. (this was given as a possibility anyway.) girl develops rabies. girl dies. tiger is put to death also.

or

girl gets rabies shots and dies/suffers brain damage/whatever as a result of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

if the tiger hadn't been killed in the first place, what would reactions have been like? I honestly can't decide whether I think the decision was right; it seems like a lose-lose situation where the risks on both sides are huge.
posted by rabi at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2001


From rushmc: "Not at all. Put simply, I value that tiger higher than that girl."

I think I understand the basic concept of sustainable genetic diversity (assuming that it means that extinction is not an instant thing when the population hits 0 but a gradual thing since genetic variability suffers as the population shrinks).

Still, I don't really understand your position. A question:

In this thread, we generally accept that the tiger, as an animal, was acting "naturally" when it attacked the girl. That's what tigers do. We don't ascribe the concept of "fault" or "guilt" to the tiger. Tigers don't live under a moral or ethical framework, so such terms are meaningless.

But what if we applied that logic to humans? Perhaps the human (as an animal) was just acting naturally when it killed the tiger. That's what man-animals do, after all. They kill other animals. Perhaps out of fear, the man-animal would kill the tiger, eat it, and then wear its fur to keep warm.

We don't do that, and we don't accept that. We expect humans to act responsibly and steward their environment. We expect that humans are bound by a moral and ethical code and should not simply act under their animal instincts. In short, we expect humans to reject their animal nature in favor of a rational nature.

Now we have a problem. If humans have a rational nature, then they have some special quality that is more valuable than the other animals. 1 human does not equal 1 tiger. (Or, one six-billionth of the humans does not equal one fifteen-hundredth of the tigers). Human life is special and altogether distinct from animal life.

I would argue that that's why very few of us would be willing to die if we or a loved one were in the position of the seven-year-old. Would you take her place? Would you put your daughter or your friend? If so, you're only displaying altruism, which is another thing that separates us from lesser animals and makes us more valuable.

Which, in the end, makes this is a tough call. Our charge to protect the environment has come directly in conflict with the welfare of one of our own. I'm not talking about a comparatively small sacrifice like slower economic growth or frustration. I'm talking about serious risk of death for a seven-year-old girl. There are some causes that I would give my life for, but this isn't one of them.

I choose the girl.
posted by nicolotesla at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2001


Not at all. Put simply, I value that tiger higher than that girl.

OK, sure, but what would you say if, for example, I don't know, a troll came up and bit the girl? :)
posted by UncleFes at 12:53 PM on July 30, 2001


First, life is cheap. Even human life. Nobody living in an industrialized nation gets to claim otherwise.

Second, if it were my kid (I have none) I would be perfectly willing to exterminate entire species to save him/her. If a scientist walked up and said "hey, we can save your kid, but only if we kill every lemur on earth", I'd go for it.

...and therein lies our problem.
posted by aramaic at 12:54 PM on July 30, 2001


If humans have a rational nature, then they have some special quality that is more valuable than the other animals...Human life is special and altogether distinct from animal life.

You do not support these contentions in your argument. Simply stating a belief does not make it true.

We expect humans to act responsibly and steward their environment. We expect that humans are bound by a moral and ethical code...

If you truly do judge humanity and human action by these criteria, then you must admit that by any objective measure, we are, as a whole, failing dismally. And if we cannot meet our moral responsibilities with all the big brains and altruism at our disposal that you are so quick to trumpet, then perhaps the tigers of the world start to look a bit better...

Many 7-yr-olds (and human beings of all other ages) will be severely impacted--even die--if the economy goes downhill far enough. If it was certain that the death of one girl would stop this from happening (which, of course, is extremely unlikely), could you really intervene and destroy all those lives, simply because the one individual had a face and was known to you, thus triggering a direct sympathy response? What of the precept of the greatest good for the greatest number?
posted by rushmc at 1:10 PM on July 30, 2001


Damn, unclefes beat me to the troll refference...
posted by Hackworth at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2001


I love how some of you identify a perspective contrary to your own as inevitably belonging to a "troll." A mite insecure, are we?

To me, the troll is the one who points a finger shouting "troll, troll" to shout down dissenting opinion, rather than attempting to cogently argue their case (as nicholotesla has had the decency to do).
posted by rushmc at 1:40 PM on July 30, 2001


Well, with luck, he'll be sued right down to the skidmarks on his underdrawers

If Minnesota law is like most other states, the keeper of a wild animal is liable for any injuries caused by that animal regardless of how careful he was - a doctrine known as "strict liability." So yes, the owner will be sued down to the underpants.

Unfortunately, it sounds as if the damages will be, considering the circumstances, small. Some medical bills, a token amount for pain and suffering, and maybe some more if she has any permanent disfigurement or disability (it sounds like she does not).

Incidentally, aren't white Siberian tigers a product of man-made breeding programs? I seem to recall that from my childhood visits to Busch Gardens.
posted by mikewas at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2001


I'm under the impression that, since a tiger is an endangered species, it's illegal to "buy" them.

Whatever gives you that impression?
posted by mikewas at 2:27 PM on July 30, 2001


I love how some of you identify a perspective contrary to your own as inevitably belonging to a "troll."

No, when I see someone with green, warty looking skin, lurking under a bridge, and charging high tolls, that's who I identify as a troll. I was just posing a hypothetical :)

I love it when guys who advocate child murder chastise me about my lack of common decency :D
posted by UncleFes at 2:31 PM on July 30, 2001


the couple, who have built up the refuge over the past decade to educate the public about wild animals,

a little more educatin' than they bargained for.
This is a big problem in other countries where humans and wild animals are jostling for space (Botswana/elephants, for eg.).
posted by spandex at 3:05 PM on July 30, 2001


I love it when guys who advocate child murder chastise me about my lack of common decency

I'm sure Swift would have a thing or two to say to you as well.
posted by rushmc at 3:07 PM on July 30, 2001


Two victims. The girl and the tiger. The girl and her parents need to be supported in a very difficult situation. They did not want to see the tiger die, but there was little alternative.
posted by NJguy at 3:43 PM on July 30, 2001


You do not support these contentions in your argument. Simply stating a belief does not make it true.

You are both right and wrong on this one. The point is not merely stated, it is supported by the following point: since humans are the only known rational beings and subject themselves to an ethical and moral framework, humans have a dignity that goes beyond that of the lesser animals. But you are right to a degree. While the assertion I mention provides a justification for my claim, it does not prove it. My statement is more of a postulate, and really can't be proven. It is a belief, but a belief that I hope other rational and ethical beings will share.

If you truly do judge humanity and human action by these criteria, then you must admit that by any objective measure, we are, as a whole, failing dismally.

Guilty as charged, but that doesn't mean that the seven-year-old should risk death to save the tiger. Humans have demonstrated that they are poor stewards of the environment, and that record needs to improve in the future. That said, humans still have the capacity for rational and ethical behavior, and are thus "special." There are species who have been driven to extinction by humans, but there are also species that would have become extinct if it was not for human intervention. You are correct that "we are, as a whole, failing dismally," but that fault does not transfer individually to the seven-year-old girl.

And if we cannot meet our moral responsibilities with all the big brains and altruism at our disposal that you are so quick to trumpet, then perhaps the tigers of the world start to look a bit better...

Perhaps they do. That said, tigers are still a universe away from possessing the capability for rational thought, ethical behavior, or their attendant virtues like love and altruism. They play their part in the world, but they are not stewards. Humans try to save the planet and fail; tigers cannot and do not try in the first place.

Many 7-yr-olds (and human beings of all other ages) will be severely impacted--even die--if the economy goes downhill far enough. If it was certain that the death of one girl would stop this from happening (which, of course, is extremely unlikely), could you really intervene and destroy all those lives, simply because the one individual had a face and was known to you, thus triggering a direct sympathy response?

This is not the case in this argument, and is really an external issue that should be argued in another thread. No one has argued that the extinction of this breed of tiger will harm other humans in the future. I, for one, hope that I am never presented with such a choice.

What of the precept of the greatest good for the greatest number?

That's a tough issue, and not necessarily a maxim that I agree with. In any case, it's not really part of this debate. In this case, the tigers are not part of the "number."
posted by nicolotesla at 3:47 PM on July 30, 2001


They claim 100 Siberian tigers in their managed breeding program. With another 400-500 known to exist worldwide in the wild. So the population is significantly lower than previously estimated in this thread.

The 100 count is of Siberian tigers in the breeding program in North America, so there still could be 1,500 if 850 live in captivity in other continents.

There are a number of more likely reasons for this than assuming that 100 individuals is sufficient breeding stock for genetic diversity (which claim is NOT made in your link): limitations of funding, organization, ownership and permission, genetic suitability, etc.

As someone who values sustainable genetic diversity more than a seven-year-old kid, you should have told us that Siberian white tigers are not bred at all except as a crowdpleaser for humans.

"Selective breeding of an extremely rare allele for white coloration is not appropriate," states the AZA report I should have read more carefully.

Another interesting quote from a college biology project: "To produce white tigers directors of zoos must continuously inbreed, father to daughter, to granddaughter, and so on. This is a contradiction of fundamental genetic principles upon which all endangered species in captivity are based. "

Is a tiger that may have been inbred by either Siegfried or Roy still worth more than a seven-year-old girl?
posted by rcade at 3:57 PM on July 30, 2001


that doesn't mean that the seven-year-old should risk death to save the tiger.

We all risk death every moment of our lives, even 7-yr-olds. Better the risk should have some moral purpose to it (i.e., not contributing to genocide) than the meaningless risks leading to most tragic consequences: getting run over while riding one's bike in the street or huffing inhalants until one's "special" being is extinguished. In this case, the risk was rather remote and no doubt more the result of laywers' hysteria than legitimate medical concern.

Humans try to save the planet and fail; tigers cannot and do not try in the first place.

And who does more harm to the world? Who more good?

I commented on the connection with the economy simply because you alluded to it. I agree that it is not directly related to this thread.

No one has argued that the extinction of this breed of tiger will harm other humans in the future.

We haven't?? Then shame on us! I hereby make that claim.

I, for one, hope that I am never presented with such a choice.

All of us hope that, I'm sure, but that doesn't change the nature of the moral conflict. I would argue that the tigers' interests ARE relevant to the issue, though not necessarily, as others would argue, the dominant concern. Humanity's primary legacy should not be that of spoilers and destroyers, but it is at this point in time, and it will continue to be until those too thoughtless and selfish (not at all referring to you, nicolotesla) to divine their own self interest in preserving the complex system that has evolved on this planet are forced aside and out of power by saner elements of society.
posted by rushmc at 4:12 PM on July 30, 2001


As someone who values sustainable genetic diversity more than a seven-year-old kid, you should have told us that Siberian white tigers are not bred at all except as a crowdpleaser for humans.

I don't find current intent behind the preservation of genetic diversity of particular importance. It's either saved (by any means, and let future generations make of it what they will) or it's lost.

If, however, these white tigers are specially bred freaks, akin to all breeds of pedigreed dogs, then it seems to me that their value decreases as their representativeness of their species decreases. But it would be a question of degree. It may be the case that any tiger genes may be better than no tiger genes at all, which is where we are rapidly headed.
posted by rushmc at 4:19 PM on July 30, 2001


since humans are the only known rational beings and subject themselves to an ethical and moral framework, humans have a dignity that goes beyond that of the lesser animals.

As philosophical argument goes, that's bollocks: given that reason is, by definition, an emergent quality. Better to put it: "Since humans deem themselves the only known rational beings... they ascribe themselves a dignity..." You may acknowledge that it's only a postulate, but it's stated in such self-contradictory terms ("a belief that I hope other rational and ethical beings will share" -- as opposed to a rational judgement?) that, well, it'd wouldn't have survived past 1650.

One might, in passing, argue that were the tiger rational, it really ought to be mauling more children to offset the distortions of modern ballistics. A creature which in the normal scheme of things has no direct predators has been done a rather huge disservice over time, usually by royalty even more inbred than the current generation of Siberian whites.

Is a tiger that may have been inbred by either Siegfried or Roy still worth more than a seven-year-old girl?

A remark like that's beneath you, rcade.

You could have a tiger that was more inbred than Ludwig I, and it'd still be more majestic. What was it that Robert Pirsig said? That the dhammakaya light blazes from a tiger's eyes. William Blake knew, at least.

As the story notes, the tiger was mindful enough of its human custodians to drop the little girl when told. A pity, then, that the court wasn't prepared to relax its own instinct.
posted by holgate at 4:20 PM on July 30, 2001


mikewas: what gave him the idea that it was illegal to buy or sell endangered species is CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Nations that are parties to CITES meet every two-and-a-half years and maintain a list of wildlife species that are threatened to varying degrees by trade. Species protected under CITES are listed on one of three appendices. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction; commercial trade in those species is prohibited. Appendix II species are likely to become threatened with extinction unless trade in those species is regulated. Parties also can request that species native to their countries be placed on Appendix III if they belive that international cooperation is necessary to protect those species.

This doesn't, of course, mean that conservation efforts involving non-commercial trade in animals can't continue. CITES began in 1973 with a urgently needed ban on trade in tigers and tiger body parts. Also, while we are bound by CITES under treaty law, the US Endangered Species Act also bans what is called a "take" of a listed animal, including buying and selling. See the US Code.
posted by dhartung at 4:35 PM on July 30, 2001


A remark like that's beneath you, rcade.

I don't follow you. Siegfried and Roy breed Siberian white tigers and reportedly own 40, which they have dubbed the "Royal White Tigers of Nevada."
posted by rcade at 4:36 PM on July 30, 2001


> > Otherwise, you should never lock up animals for lines
> > of dopey tourists to stare at.
>
> Then you won't have those animals. Zoos generate a
> lot of money for animal breeding programs and research.

That's why I think we should put our human needy on display, too: put on a show, raise needed money. Look at that little Molly dance! And on one leg! The kid's got guts. Not all of 'em, but most of 'em! Don't let that cancer get you down, Molly! ... Oh, here come the Heartbreaking Homeless! Those sad but smelly guys with their hats in their hands and their hearts on their sleeves! And next on the schedule is the Amazing Acrobatic Alzheimers, but it looks like they've forgotten again. Har har har, just kiddin', folks. Here's they are, Nurse Betty and her Amazing Acrobatic Alzheimers! Whooops-a-daisy! Hey, gramps! The trampoline's over there!
posted by pracowity at 11:18 PM on July 30, 2001


rcade
Siegfried and Roy breed Siberian white tigers and reportedly own 40
Yes, and they probably have sex with them, too
posted by matteo at 3:25 AM on July 31, 2001


Recipe: "One tiger penis makes soup for eight people, it costs around eight thousand NT."
posted by pracowity at 3:52 AM on July 31, 2001


The kid's got guts. Not all of 'em, but most of 'em!

Hilarious.
posted by techgnollogic at 11:33 AM on July 31, 2001


Actually, the death of a "rare white Siberian tiger" is not a "loss to biodiversity [that] puts us that much closer to losing an important species."

"The white tiger collection in North American zoos traces its ancestry to a single white male known as Mohan, [and] the only way to produce additional white tiger cubs was to breed Mohan back to his daughter...... Owners of white tigers say white tigers are popular exhibit animals and help increase zoo attendance and, at $60,000 each, revenues as well. ... To produce white tigers or any other phenotypic curiosity, directors of zoos and facilities must continuously inbreed, father to daughter, to granddaughter, and so on. ... White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by a few zoos, private breeders, and circus folks, who do this for economic rather than conservation reasons." [The Tiger Information Center]posted by Hieronymous Coward at 9:55 PM on July 31, 2001


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