The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, the Amur tiger is a top predator of far eastern Asia. With thick fur, and padded paws, this northern cat is well protected against the bone-chilling cold and icy winds of winter.

What They Eat

Amur tigers are carnivores. They eat mostly large mammals, especially wild boar and deer. But when food is scarce or a hunt goes badly (many do), they may turn to smaller prey such as rabbits or to carrion.

Where They Live

Amur tigers thrive in temperate forests (similar to central and northern Minnesota) that are large and healthy enough to support abundant populations of deer and other prey. Once spread across large areas of Asia, the tigers are now mostly limited to the northern end of their ancient range. They require dense woodlands and open fields, and each male covers territory of up to 400 square miles.

What They Do

Tigers travel over extensive territories in search of food. They hunt using stealth, speed, and sheer strength. With thick fur for warmth, stripes that render it hard for prey to identify, powerful leg muscles for stalking and springing, superb hearing and night vision, and sharp teeth and claws, these animals are well adapted to their role as top carnivore of Asia’s eastern forests.

How They’re Doing

The Amur tiger’s need for large areas of wild land, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to hunters caused its population to drop to between 20 and 30 in the 1930s. In 2005, biologists estimated 360 in the wild. Though still small, this number proves that even a tiny population can rebound if protected.


Where in the World



Temperate Forest/Taiga

Conservation Status


Animal Facts

Weight: 300–450 lbs
Body Length: 6 to 9 ft
Tail Length: up to 37½ in

Taxonomic Category

Mammal, carnivore

Where at the Zoo

Northern Trail

Sidebar Content

  • Tigers use their rough tongues to clean their fur and rasp meat off bones.
  • No two tigers have the same stripes. The skin as well as the fur shows the animal’s unique striping pattern.
  • When they walk, tigers often place their hind feet in the tracks of their forefeet.
  • Unlike most cat species, tigers like water and are good swimmers.

Endangered Amur tigers hovered on the brink of extinction in the 1930s and 1940s. With conservation efforts in place, their numbers have improved. But they are still at risk from poaching, loss of prey, and disease.

Poaching of tigers for their skins, bones, and other parts, as well as poaching of their wild prey species is driving the decline of this subspecies. Amur tigers are also threatened when roads are built for logging.  This provides more access for poachers to find tigers and their prey.

Things the Zoo’s Done/Doing

The Minnesota Zoo has championed tiger conservation since it first opened its doors in 1978. As it became clear that tiger populations in the wild were declining and threatened with extinction, conservation efforts within zoos and other institutions began, including coordination of cooperative breeding and the creation of a species survival plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Under this program, zoos work together to save species through cooperative conservation breeding programs. The SSP coordinators use genetic and family-tree information to determine which animals should be paired together to mate for the benefit of the entire species. The Tiger SSP coordinates the efforts of more than 100 North American zoos and aquariums. The Minnesota Zoo has had more than 40 tiger cubs born here since we opened.

In 2012, AZA’s tiger SSP created the Tiger Conservation Campaign.  Minnesota Zoo staff are proud to co-host this campaign which focuses on the conservation of Amur, Sumatran, and Malayan tiger populations. In partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, these projects work to get at the heart of the crisis and support and involve local communities in the process. These efforts have raised millions of dollars to directly support the conservation of tigers worldwide.