Siberian tigers born and living in the world's largest breeding base have developed a social hierarchy, quite different from their solitary cousins in the wild, according to Chinese zoologists.
The social status of tigers in China Henghedaozi Feline Breeding Center in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province depends on their size and strength, chief technician Liu Dan said.
The stronger ones can move around freely in the park while others are restricted to a corner.
Liu also found that some tigers had become "friends", which is also rare among those living in the wild.
As a predator, every wild tiger needs its own territory to support itself. An ancient Chinese saying states "no two tigers can exist on the same mountain."
The behavior change among tigers is of interest to researchers, Liu said.
Siberian tigers, among the world's 10 most endangered species, mostly live in northeast China and the Far East area of Russia. Of the 400 estimated to live in the wild, only 10 to 17 live in northeast China.
The center is home to more than 750 Siberian tigers, up from just eight when it was founded in 1986.
More than 90 of the 100 or so tigers born at the park every year survive and the park's tiger population is expected to exceed 1,000 by 2009, according to the park.
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2006)