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January 16, 2010

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Rare tigers' roars silenced as experts collect DNA from zoo

THE South China Tiger Coordinative Committee has finished collecting DNA samples from most of the South China tigers at Shanghai Zoo, zoo officials said yesterday.

Shanghai is where a pilot scheme for the collections is carried out, which will be undertaken throughout the country.

The city has 21 South China tigers and samples were taken from all except three who were pregnant.

The samples will be used for genealogy study, for preventing inbreeding and for research on organ transplants, officials said.

Tiger experts took blood, fur, cell tissue and excreta samples after the tigers were put to sleep with an anesthetic administered by blowpipe.

"The tigers jumped and roared for about six minutes after the first half of the anesthetic was injected," said Pan Xiuwen, a zoo official. "Then the drug started to work and the tigers became quiet."

The DNA samples will be sent to the Wolong Panda Reserve Center in Sichuan.

Experts said although the study of the genealogy of the South China tigers has been going on for 15 years, there was still much to learn.

Shanghai Zoo now has the biggest South China tiger group on China's mainland.


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