NE China's Siberian tiger breeding center conducts DNA tests on cubs

16:44, April 22, 2011      

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Siberian tigers in a northeast China breeding center will soon obtain special "ID cards" that will help facilitate identification, research and management of the endangered animals.

Researchers at the Heilongjiang Siberian Tigers Garden, the world's largest breeding center for the large cat, launched a DNA test program on Thursday to identify and earmark more than 100 cubs born in 2010.

A total of 19 cubs got blood tests and were earmarked on the first day, Zhou Ming, director of the garden's veterinary hospital, told reporters Friday.

The cubs received an anaesthetic before their blood was drawn and identification chips were embedded under the skin around their necks, Zhou said.

To date, the center has conducted DNA tests on more than 800 Siberian tigers since introducing the program in 2001.

Thanks to its successful breeding program, the center has bred over 1,000 Siberian tigers since opening in 1996, when it had just eight of the large cats.

Though Siberian tigers once roamed parts of western and central Asia and eastern Russia, they are now one of the world's rarest species. An estimated 300 Siberian tigers are left in the wild, with only about 20 in northeast China's mountain forest regions.

China has been trying to raise the numbers of various endangered species through active breeding programs.

Source: Xinhua
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