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More Tigers, Less Funds: Chinese Park Faces Dilemma
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A northeast China park is having trouble making ends meet as its population of critically-endangered Siberian tigers climbs by more than 100 a year.


"We're very happy to see new cubs being born, but we're worried about how to feed them properly with our limited funds," said Wang Ligang, manager of Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park, the world's largest artificial breeding base for the endangered big cats.


The park, located in the suburbs of provincial capital Harbin, has more than 700 Siberian tigers.


"Each carnivore eats 80 yuan (US$10) of raw meat a day, which adds up to 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) a year for all 700 tigers," said Wang.


The cash-strapped park only makes 12 million yuan (US$1.5 million) a year out of ticket sales, he said.


The park, established in 1986, charges 50 yuan (US$6.25) for each adult visitor and half price for children.


Chief engineer Liu Dan said the park had 620 Siberian tigers last year and more than 80 cubs were born between January and July this year.


"Twenty to 30 cubs will be born in the coming months. We expect the tiger population to expand to 730 by the end of the year," he said.


Thanks to improved breeding technologies and effective disease control and prevention measures, the survival rate for newborn Siberian tigers tops 90 percent, said Liu.


He said there would be at least 1,000 Siberian tigers roaming the park by 2010.


Siberian tigers, also known as Amur or Manchurian tigers, are among the world's 10 most endangered species. Most of them live in northeast China and Russia's Far East.


(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2006)

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