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Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet, 2009  

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet, 2009

Image credit: San Diego Zoo Global. All Rights Reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics
Describer: Linnaeus (1758)

Kingdon: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Panthera

Species: Panthera tigris

Subspecies: P. t. altaica (Amur or Siberian)
Subspecies: P. t. amoyensis (South China)
Subspecies: P. t. corbetti (Indo-Chinese)
Subspecies: P. t. jacksoni (Malayan)
Subspecies: P. t. sumatrae (Sumatran)
Subspecies: P. t. tigris (Bengal)

Recently extinct subspecies:
P. t. balica (Bali tiger)
P. t. sondaica (Javan tiger)
P. t. virgata (Caspian tiger)

Body Weight:
Males: 100-261 kg (220-575 lb); up to 325 kg (716 lb) in zoos
Females: 75-177 kg (165-390 lb)

Head-Body Length
Males: 189-300 cm (6.2-9.8 ft)
Females: 146-177 cm (4.8-5.8 ft)

Shoulder Height:
80-100 cm (2.6-3.3 ft)

Tail Length:
72-109 cm (2.4-3.6 ft)

Black or brown stripes on a red-orange to golden yellow background. Underparts white or cream-colored. Backs of ears dark with a prominent white spot.
Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology
  • Bengal Tiger - Indian sub-continent (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh)
  • Indochinese Tiger - Indochina (north of Malayan peninsula)
  • Malayan Tiger - Peninsular Malaysia
  • Sumatran Tiger - Island of Sumatra
  • Amur Tiger - Russian Far East (Eastern Russia and NE China)
  • South China Tiger - China/Korea

Habitat: Extremely varied; from tropical rain forest to temperate conifer-deciduous forest.

IUCN (ver. 3.1)
: All subspecies listed.

  • Endangered
    • Bengal tiger (assessed in 2010)
    • Indochinese tiger(assessed in 2010)
    • Amur tiger(assessed in 2010)
    • Malayan tiger (assessed in 2008)
  • Critically Endangered
    • Sumatran Tiger (assessed in 2008)
    • South China Tiger, possibly extinct in the wild (assessed in 2008)

CITES Status:
Appendix I

Wild Population:
3,200 generally accepted estimate (2009)

Activity Cycle: Active day and night when not hunted by humans.

Social Groups:
Solitary, except for females with cubs. Mating pair forms a  temporary association.

Females hold small, mutually exclusive territories. Males hold territories which include as many female ranges as possible; male ranges do not typically overlap.

Communication: Vocalize and scent mark. Roar, purr, grunt, miaow, woof, growl, and hiss. Also produce a sambar, deer-like call. Scent-mark throughout territorial range. Visual signals used in close proximity; posture, facial expression signal intention.

Consume large and medium deer, wild pigs, antelope, water buffalo, and wild cattle.

Hunting Behavior:
Hunt alone, solitary. Stalk-and-ambush prey. Kill by bite to back of neck or strangulation with a throat bite.

Humans are the only serious predator. Endangered due to hunting, poaching, and trade in tiger parts. Male tigers will rarely kill cubs. Injury from porcupine quills common. Shortage of prey limits available habitat. Habitat loss/fragmentation critical.
Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males: 4-5 years; females: 3-4 years.

Gestation: Average 103-106 days; range 97-110

Litter Size: 2-3 cubs most often; 1-7 possible

Neonate Weight: 780-1600 g (1.7-3.5 lb)

Age at Weaning: 3-6 months

Longevity: Up to 26 years in managed care and in wild

Feature Facts: Voted world's favorite animal in 2004 poll (50,000 people, 73 countries).

Society Press:
San Diego Zoo - 3-acre Tiger River rain forest ecosystem opened in 1988. Resident as of July 2013: 1 male, 2 female Malayan tigers (P. t. jacksoni, recently confirmed distinct subspecies by genetic studies).

San Diego Zoo's Safari Park - 5-acre Tull Family Tiger Trail completed Spring 2014 (forested habitat including ponds, climbing rocks, birthing den). Resident at Park as of July 2013: 3 male, 3 female Sumatran tigers (P.t. sumatrae).


About This Fact Sheet

© 2015 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated August 2013.

How to cite: Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet, 2009. c2009. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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