If school shootings, the former leader of the free world's alienation of long-time allies in favor of getting cozy with dictators, or the systematic destruction of the environment and the norms of human decency aren't enough to keep you awake at night, this ought to do it: America may have a tiger problem. In many states, no one has a clue of how many tigers are being kept as pets or in private animal sanctuaries.
From the BBC
Taj was a four-month-old tiger cub when purchased at a Texas truck stop by the driver of an 18-wheeler lorry. But after Taj began tearing up the truck's cab, the driver contacted Austin Zoo to get the animal off his hands. The zoo now looks after the fully grown 17-year-old Bengal tiger male.
Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates. That's nearly double the estimated 3,890 tigers still prowling in the wild around the world.
Tigers. Being sold at truck stops.
To be fair, given the number of calories, sugar and sodium in a single 52-ounce refill of Coca Cola available at any Flying J travel center, an apex predator is pretty far down the list of dangerous things you can buy at a truck stop these days.
According to the BBC, the biggest problem going, where tigers in America are concerned, isn't that no one has a bead on how many are being kept as pets. Rather, it's the fact the big cats could be hanging around in backyards without the proper safety protocols in place. That's bad for the tiger and potentially bad for anyone around were the kitty to escape.
If you've got a few minutes to kill and feel like, at this point, one more thing to worry about really won't make much of a difference, the BBC's
story on tiger ownership in the United States makes for pretty good reading.
Image: By Rahulsharma photography - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link