Farm Tigers to Save Them?

Mark Perry suggests allowing tiger ranching to save tigers, and offers the alligator example as an analog of how commercial use helped revive an animal' fortunes.  This kind of ownership rights has revived a number of fisheries, and hasn't hurt either buffalo or ostriches either.

This video below is pretty funny, and gets at these issues towards the end.  "There might be a few polar bears left if people wanted one for breakfast."


  1. Brian Dunbar:


    People used to eat manatees. Was it because they were tasty, or because people in the old days simply ate what was around without being picky?

    Nobody seems to know for sure. If anyone does find out they can't tell the rest of us without going to jail. But I know if we could farm manatees we'd have them around forever.

  2. Evil Red Scandi:

    Mmmmmm... tiger steaks!

  3. Mark:

    Here is another view of vegetarianism - the protest song starts about 1 minute in. The first minute is the premeditated brutal stalking and murder of a carrot.

  4. Phil in Sonoma:

    I admire Mark Perry but I think he hasn't thought this matter through. Tigers are poached for three or four specialized "products": their pelts (the trade of which is universally prohibited), their teeth, their private parts (the principal motive), and I suspect their milk (yuck!). The world condones the husbandry of cows and chickens because the protein they provide is so beneficial to the billions of people who consume it, and because such husbandry has been undertaken for thousands of years. Would the "international community," to employ the hoary label I reflexively deplore, look favorably on the raising of tigers in captivity solely for the eventual harvesting of their penises? I have qualms about this that are hard to quantify, yet I imagine many would share them.

  5. pdb:

    It's a survival strategy to be tasty. Are chickens and turkeys going to go extinct any time soon?

  6. perlhaqr:

    Phil: Presumably, one could remove the restriction on trade in the pelts if they were being farmed for them. As for the qualms people might feel about raising tigers for their pelts and genitals, well, minks and chinchillas are farmed for just their pelts alone, and mostly no-one who isn't a card carrying member of PETA cares about that.

    So, on the one hand, while tigers are probably more socially noticed, simply due to years of media exposure, than other fur farm animals are, I don't think the outcry would be too significant.

    On the other hand, the characteristics of a fur farm business animal are very probably different than the characteristics of a wild animal. So it's probably disingenuous to market this as a true "conservationist" effort.

    On the gripping hand, it's probably better than total extinction.

  7. morganovich:

    he's leaving out what it costs to raise a tiger.

    tigers eat 20 pounds of meat a day. that's 14,000 pounds in 2 years. call it $28,000. add in veterinary, large space and security needs, keepers, insurance (if anyone will write it) and god knows what else and i bet you it costs $40,000 to raise a tiger. hard to imagine how $60,000 retail yields a collapse in black market pricing.

    it's an interesting line of thought and holds some truth as a general concept, but ignoring the specifics of trying to raise a 600 pound solitary alpha predator is likely to yield perverse results.

    even ostriches, from which nearly every part is useful, are nearly impossible to raise profitably.

    this tiger thing is a cute idea, but until but somebody shows me how the specific economics can work with some actual data, i'm calling BS.

  8. Mark:

    To perlhaqr and Morganovich.

    First off, I think you may misunderstand how capitalism works. Yeah there are people who exploit natural resources until they are gone, but farmers are not that way, and tend to try to run as efficiently as possible. If they started growing tigers for profit, they would of course harvest the most profitable bits for sale, but the rest of the tiger would get used and get used completely. If a market for tiger meat were not found, the rest of the tiger would end up being rendered for animal feed and industrial gelatin - so there would be no waste whatsoever. Do you know how much of a cow is left behind? None - in fact even the semi-digested food gets re-manufactured into other products.

    As for the food, you are assuming that farmers would be feeding tigers steaks like they do at the zoo. But think of this - how many people actually feed their housecats steak? Most feed the animals food made from lower quality animal parts, and parts of tuna that humans do not regularly eat. The tiger would not be getting 20lbs of Fillet Mignon per day, it would be getting 2 - 3 rate food (I am talking grading, not nutritional value, and as the nutritional requirements get hammered out - the farmers would be able to pay less and less for the food that the tigers eat.

    Basically, if it were allowed and there was a market, I imagine it could be done by an enterprising farmer.

  9. Greg:

    Most of the vegetarians I know (I am not one) avoid meat for two reasons: (1) they don't like killing certain things for food and (2) they don't like the conditions under which they are kept. I think reason one is untenable, but with reason two I sympathize. If you can profitably raise tigers in an environment different from the conditions of how we raise many of our cows and chickens, go for it. I'll happily eat them and I would work hard to get my vegetarian friends to do the same.