National Geographic News: "Toygers" vs. tigers.

March 21, 2007—Sumatra, a registered "toyger," displays the rusty colored fur and unique black stripes of the relatively new breed.

Toygers have been registered with the International Cat Association (TICA) since 1993. This May they will join more familiar purebred felines, such as Persians and Siamese, that can be judged as championship cats at TICA-sponsored cat shows.

The Sumatran tiger lives in the wild only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The nonprofit World Conservation Union lists the Sumatran tiger as critically endangered, noting that only about 250 mature individuals are believed to remain.

Toyger creator Sudgen thinks that the new cat breed, which resembles a toy tiger, will be perfected by 2010, around the same time that she believes the last of the tigers will be living in zoo's.

"The results [of toyger breeding] could be the last chance for humans to make up for the loss of these species on Earth due to our stupidity," she said.
National Geographic News. Sumatran Tiger
National Geographic News, toygers vs tigers. The new pet cat breed

Toyger creator Judy Sudgen said she hopes the playful pets will inspire more people to care about wild tiger conservation.

"We use part of the price of the kittens to help the conservation of tigers, since that's our inspiration," she said.

For now the toyger is a work in progress, and fanciers hope to produce cats that more closely resemble tigers within the next few years.

A captive Sumatran tiger, the smallest of the five living tiger subspecies, lounges at a zoo in Asia. Three other known tiger subspecies have gone extinct, and all five remaining subspecies are considered at risk of extinction.
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