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|Monday, July 10, 2000, updated at 16:42(GMT+8)|
Chongqing Sends South China Tigers Back HomeChongqing Zoo, in southwest China, recently moved four south China tigers back "home," hoping that reacquainting them with their native surroundings would improve their chances to conceive.
No south China tigers have been born in the zoo in ten years.
Their new home is a "tiger mountain" built by the zoo at a cost of two million yuan ($240,000). The mountain has a simulated natural environment, which is surrounded by bullet-proof glass walls.
Zoo employees said that the four tigers have lived in captivity for such a long time, they are surprised to see their daily food -- chickens and rabbits -- scampering before their eyes. One of the tigers was reportedly so scared of the small creatures it ran from them.
Xie Youxin, deputy director of zoo, explained that most of the south China tigers have difficulty bearing offspring due to their long-term captivity.
An examination of eight of the zoo's male south China tigers conducted in 1997 revealed that two have no sperm count, one has inactive sperm, and the rest have low-quality sperm.
China now has more than 50 south China tigers which live in 22 zoos, mainly in the four south China tiger breeding bases of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chongqing and Hangzhou.
The species has been listed as one of the world's ten most endangered animals.
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