Sunday, April 20, 2008

Captive Tigers Harbor Rare "Purebred" Genes

In a National geographic story this week they report on a study of the genetics of captive tigers. There used to be eight distinct subspecies of tigers, now there are five and one of these no longer exists in the wild. In order to preserve the genetic identity of the subspecies it is necessary that any captive breeding uses only 'purebred' animals from that subspecies. Until this recent study many captive animals were not of use because their genetic history was unknown. In addition it was assumed that many of them would be likely to be the results of crossbreeding between different subspecies. However this latest research provides good news by showing that almost half of the captive tigers tested might be purebreeds. Since there are only 3,000 wild tigers and 15-20,000 captive tigers this is important news.

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