GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The signs outside the exhibit at John Ball Zoo put the problem in frank terms: "Amur tigers are in trouble."
"There's less than 400 in the wild," Peter D'Arienzo, the CEO of the zoo in Grand Rapids, explained to 24 Hour News 8. "There may be a day where there are none left in the wild."
That's why conservation of Amur tigers and other endangered species is critical.
Because of a drafting error in a Michigan law from 2000, it had been illegal for zoos to breed large carnivores. That meant the zoo couldn't participate in a breeding program meant to help grow the population of Amur tigers.
"The great thing about Michigan is there is a process to change that," D'Arienzo said. "There is a process to amend the (law)."
That's exactly what they did. The John Ball Zoo and Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek, which has a lion exhibit, publicly backed a bill and testified in support of change. The changes were signed into law just before the new year.
"This law will allow us to breed our Amur tigers," D'Arienzo said. "It's huge."
The zoo built a new facility in 2014, which includes a cubbing den, in anticipation of changes to the law.
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