What do tigers have to do with Valentines Day?

Jason Adams, Courier Staff

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Later this week we have the most divided holiday in the history of mankind and greeting cards; Valentine’s Day. For some it’s a holiday of love, chocolates and romantic dates in candlelight (or at Chick’s); for others it’s a lonely and particularly annoying Thursday. Whether you think it’s a romantic time to show your love for your significant other or just another holiday created by the greeting card companies, it can’t be worse than a day had at a zoo in London.

Late last week an endangered Sumatran tiger died while meeting a potential mate in a London Zoo. The ZSL London Zoo reported the death on their Twitter on Friday. As part of a European conservation program, the two were brought together in hope of helping to bring up the Sumatran tigers dwindling population. The tigers were initially in separate containers next to each other to introduce some familiarity with each other in a safer environment. The zookeepers determined it was a good time for the pair to meet and introduced them into the same enclosure. Things started out well but took a drastic turn. Efforts to save the tiger were unsuccessful.

What makes this worse is that these species are critically endangered with a population of less than 400. This first date did not help matters either, there was a lot of faith that these two tigers would be able to help with the issue. Efforts to save endangered species are never ending and can be difficult with more aggressive wildlife such as tigers. I feel that it’s better to leave the animals in the wildlife and to protect their habitats than to try to encourage breeding in captivity and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this pair didn’t work out but other pairs have and will. The European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) helps to pair endangered animals in European zoos and bring them together to help repopulate their species and add some genetic diversity across zoos. It’s essentially like animal Tinder except with a higher rate of commitment. When animals are paired they are brought together and gradually introduced in hopes of becoming mates. If there is a lack of interest they are put back in to look for other mates, if there is interest then it’s a success. The Sumatran tiger has actually had success through this program before. In 2011 a tiger in a zoo in Cheshire, England gave birth to three cubs. Hopefully those cubs will have success in the program as well.

Dates don’t always work out, usually not as bad as this but I wouldn’t recommend going on a date with a tiger for multiple reasons. If a first date doesn’t go well, so what? There are other people out there. If it does then great! Hopefully things work out. If you don’t have a date on Valentine’s Day that’s okay too, it could be worse. Find some single friends to hang out with or just have a nice night in, at least the weekend isn’t far behind.

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