TV Highlights

America’s Pet Tigers

Nat Geo Wild - 9pm

Who's in it?

Beautiful tigers and concerned humans share the billing in this documentary about the strange epidemic of big cats being kept as pets Stateside.

In a nutshell

Who'd actually own a pet tiger? Perhaps the occasional eccentric billionaire, and a few hip hop stars who want something suitably unnecessary to lounge by the sides of their jewel-encrusted sofas? No – it turns out LOTS of people are keeping these ferocious wild animals where a labrador should be. Question is, what's it doing to the tigers themselves? This programme delves into this very weird situation.

The statistics put things into sharp relief: there are now MORE tigers kept in captivity in the USA than there are roaming wild in Asia. Not all of them are actual "pets" as we know the term – a lot are in zoos, of course, while a goodly number are trained up by Hollywood to star in the odd blockbuster here and there. The upshot is that these animals lose touch with their true natures, and never get to exercise their innate hunting instincts. And that definitely cannot be a good thing.

What's the verdict?

If you've ever found it jarring to see tigers pacing up and down in zoo enclosures, wait till you see their unnatural dwelling places in this documentary. Hopefully the various experts they’ve rallied will point to a way back to the wild for these magnificent beasts.

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07-07-2011