Siberian tigers to be released in arboretum

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Siberian tigers to be released in arboretum

DAEJEON - South Korea’s forest authorities said Wednesday they plan to release three additional Siberian tigers into a “tiger forest” inside an arboretum in southeastern South Korea starting from this week as part of efforts to preserve the species in the wild.

The Korea Forest Service, in the initial stage, will relocate a 12-year-old female named Hancheong and a six-year-old male named Uri from Seoul Grand Park to the 4.8 hectare (12 acre) forest at the National Baekdu-daegan Arboretum on a mountain range near Bonghwa, a town in South Korea’s southeast province of North Gyeongsang, on Thursday.

The relocation will come after the arboretum and the park sign a pact on cooperation in exchanges of endangered animals and plants.

Another Siberian tiger will be transported to the forest in due course if Hancheong and Uri adapt to the new surroundings.

In February, the service released Geumgang, an 11-year-old Siberian tiger, and 15-year-old tiger named Duman, into the forest. Both tigers are male, were donated by China, and were raised at the amusement park O-World in the city of Daejeon in central South Korea. However, Geumgang died of urine poisoning caused by chronic renal failure eight days after his release. Siberian tigers, also called Mount Paekdu tigers, are known to have last been captured in the wild on the Korean Peninsula in 1921. The forest service is scheduled to finish two to three months of training on the tigers for their reintroduction to the wild after the relocation and to open the arboretum to the public after September.

Choi Byung-am, head of the forest protection affairs bureau at the service, expected that “by successfully relocating the Siberian tigers the service will show the public Siberian tigers romping around in the wild as well as preserve the animal that is at risk of extinction.”

“We will also strengthen cooperation with Seoul Grand Park in the exchange and protection of endangered animal and plant genetic resources,” Choi said. The tiger forest, the largest one displaying tigers in South Korea, is made similar to the surroundings of natural habitats where wild tigers live and has safety fences around it that keep the tigers from escaping.

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