There are only about 3,000 tigers left in the world — and they exist in only 13 countries. All six surviving species of tigers are endangered, and there are three known extinct species, all of which became extinct in the second half of the 20th century. Contrary to popular belief, white tigers are not a separate species. Their unusual color is the result of a genetic mutation caused by inbreeding.
More facts about tigers:
- Each tiger's stripe pattern is unique, much like a human fingerprint. Most tigers have more than 100 stripes.
- Tigers have antiseptic saliva, which they use to clean their wounds. Their tongues also have a series of hooks on them that help them to scrape all the meat off a kill — house cats have these hooks too, which is why their tongues feel like sandpaper. An average-size tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds (about 27 kg) of meat in one sitting.
- A tiger carcass can fetch as much as $50,000 US Dollars on the black market, where the parts are used for traditional medicine and occasionally clothing and accessories.