Courageous, fierce and striking to look at, tigers are magnificent beasts with beautifully distinctive markings. Hugely popular, these creatures feature in books, movies and theatre shows. In fact, if you’re looking for fun things to do in London, The Tiger Who Came to Tea is showing there this summer. But did you know that there are nine tiger types - three of which have already become extinct? Let’s find out more…
The Bengal tiger, also known as the Indian tiger, is the most well-known breed of tiger and the largest. It’s on the endangered list, meaning the Bengal tiger is at risk of becoming extinct. But it can currently still be found roaming India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Siberian tiger can be found in Northern Asia, notably China, Russia and Korea. It’s on the critically endangered list, with only around 350-400 adult Siberian tigers left in the wild. The Siberian tiger has a broad chest and a large skull. It also has really thick fur to protect it from the harsh winters of Northern Asia. Its fur is also a less vibrant orange.
The Sumatran tiger lives on the island of Sumatra as its name suggests, and has been isolated from other tiger species. It is genetically different from other tigers and tends to be a lot smaller, weighing only half the weight of a Bengal or Siberian tiger. With less than 400 Sumatran tigers in the wild, it’s also on the critically endangered list.
The Indochinese tiger has narrow, single stripes, with males weighing in between 331 and 430 pounds (that’s about the weight of two adult humans). It’s native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries such as China, Thailand, Laos, Burma and Vietnam. Sadly, the illegal trade of tiger parts is in high demand in this region. The population of Indochinese tigers is dwindling fast as a result and could become extinct in our lifetime.
The Malayan tiger is native to Southeastern Asia, roaming the forests of Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. It looks very similar to the Indochinese tiger, it’s just a little smaller, and wasn’t even considered a subtype of its own until the early 2000s. Sadly, there are less than 200 breeding adults in the world and numbers are declining fast.
This tiger is native to eastern and central China, but hasn’t been seen in the wild for years. It’s so endangered that only 30-40 are known to exist in the world and all of these are in captivity. The South China tiger faces extinction.
It’s really sad to think that some tiger species have already become extinct. But this is exactly what happened to the Caspian tiger, a large, powerful tiger that lived around the Caspian Sea. It did not have the bold rusty orange colours of the Bengal tiger and was often referred to as a grey tiger instead.
A native of the Indonesian islands, the Bali tiger was the world’s smallest tiger, with the female weighing between 143 and 176 pounds. Like the Caspian tiger, the Bali tiger is also extinct.
The Javan tiger has been listed as extinct since the 1970s. However, there have been random sightings which suggest it still exists. The Javan tiger lived in Indonesia alongside the Bali tiger and the Sumatran tiger.
If your little ones love tigers and you’re looking for kids activities London, don’t miss The Tiger Who Came to Tea, now touring the UK.