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Should Tigers Be Pets?

October 25th, 2013

Members of the Borges family with one of the pet tigers. Photo credit: AP/Renata Brito

Meet Tom and Dan. They’re members of the Borges family in Maringa, Brazil. Some of their neighbors are not too happy about having Tom and Dan as neighbors.


Tom and Dan are the family’s pets — pet tigers. They’re two of reportedly 8 pet tigers who have many of the same freedoms a pet dog might have.

One of the daughters grew up with the cub sleeping in her bed … until the tiger got too big (they weigh about 700 pounds). And the 2-year old rides it like a horse (see video below). So does their pet chihuahua.

They’re in the news now because there’s a legal battle over whether the Borges family can keep the tigers. They actually have a license to raise the tigers. The problem is they allowed them to have babies … so now there are more. They weren’t allowed to do that.

And even though their property is surrounded by walls, it’s making some already nervous neighbors even more nervous, saying it creates a public danger. Perhaps in this case the old adage is true, good fences make good neighbors .

How’d they end up with pet tigers? 

The Borges family rescued them from traveling circus where they reportedly weren’t treated well. The Borges’s believe they’re giving the tigers a better life than the circus did, and even a zoo would. The dad, Ary Borges, said,”We are preserving and conserving the species.”

Tigers are an endangered species with fewer than 3,200 left in the wild.

But experts say that people and tigers don’t mix, and that the Borges’s are not doing the tigers any favors.

Patty Finch, the executive director of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries  said, “Breeding in captivity doesn’t help conserve the tigers unless they’re bred in their native habitat and there is a plan to release them. They’re condemning these tigers to a life of captivity.”

She added, “It’s crazy. It’s a very dangerous situation, especially if there are young children around, they easily trigger a tiger’s hunting instinct.”

The tigers have been living with the Borges family for 8 years.

What do you think? Should they be allowed to keep tigers as pets?

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