중앙데일리

Russia to send Korea 3 tigers to aid in breeding

Nov 10,2009
The Ministry of Environment is planning to import Siberian tigers directly from Russia to Korea.

During the fifth annual meeting of the Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation between Korea and Russia in Moscow, on Oct. 30, the ministry officially requested that Russia donate two male and one female Siberian tigers, the ministry said yesterday.

Both sides agreed to discuss specific dates and methods to bring the tigers to Korea through working-level talks after Russia selects tigers, according to the ministry.

The reason for the request is to secure genetic diversity among Siberian tigers living in Korea.

The ministry said that there are a number of Siberian tigers being raised in zoos nationwide, including some 20 at the Seoul Zoo in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi.

But concerns are rising as those tigers might be prone to genetic disease since recessive genes are expressed after repeated inbreeding.

The Ministry of Environment is slated to use donated tigers to increase the population of healthy tigers at the Seoul Zoo as well as other zoo facilities.

“Our goal is to bring tigers from Russia during the first half of next year,” said Kim Yong-jin, head of the international affairs division at the ministry.

“If the plan is realized, it will be meaningful because next year not only marks the 20th anniversary of Korea-Russia diplomatic ties but is also the Year of the Tiger.”

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, have the same family line as Korean native tigers that have not been present since 1924.

In 1940s, there were 20 to 30 Siberian tigers in Korea. However, the number increased after the government adopted policies, such as hunting bans, to protect them.

Currently, an estimated 500 tigers roam the wilds in Korea and 421 are being raised in captivity.



By Kang Chan-su, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]




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