Powerfully built with fierce retractile claws (they can be pulled
into the paw, like a house
cat's), the tiger's distinctive gold coloring with black stripes allows it to melt unseen into
its environment. The coloring actually ranges from reddish yellow to reddish brown, and both white
and "black" tigers have been known to occur in the wild. Most white tigers seen today have been bred
in captivity for this characteristic; "black" tigers are examples of a strange color pattern in which
the stripes merge into a few, very broad, strips.
Today only about 5,000 - 7,000 wild tigers live across Asia. The
past and present ranges of the remaining
five tiger subspecies are illustrated. The northernmost living tiger, the Amur or Siberian tiger, lives
primarily in southeastern Russia. The South China tiger occurs only in southern China. The range of the
Indochinese tiger extends across most of Southeast Asia. The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India,
while the Sumatran tiger is restricted to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Bali, Caspian, and Javan
tigers have become extinct in the past 70 years.