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Happy International Tiger Day: 5 Fun Facts About These Big Cats

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The largest of all the living cats, the tiger, has its own day set aside to remind everyone of how magnificent a creature it is as well as highlight the importance of protecting it as a species.

International Tiger Day began in 2010 as a response to some shocking news: more than 97 percent of wild tigers have disappeared over the last 100 years, bringing the creatures to near extinction. The holiday was set up to bring attention to the plight of tigers in the wild, as well as the reasons for their rapid declining numbers, which include loss of habitat, climate change, hunting and poaching.

July 29 is the day we celebrate one of nature's most magnificent felines, with a specific focus on gaining knowledge about how the world can make sure that tigers continue to exist in the future.

Here are five fun facts about these beautiful creatures.

Only About 3,000 Tigers Now Exist In The Wild

At the beginning of the 1900s, the world held about 100,000 tigers. In 2016, that number is drastically lower, and only about 3,000 now exist in the world. Three of the nine subspecies of tigers - the Bali, Javan and Caspian - are now already extinct. There is some good news, though: tiger populations have begun to increase for the first time in a century.

The Largest Tigers Can Weigh Around 700 Pounds

Tigers are huge and some can weigh a lot. On average, they range from around 4 to 9 feet long and can weigh from 160 to 700 pounds. Siberian tigers, though, are more than 10 feet long and weigh around 660 pounds. The tail of a tiger alone can add up to nearly 4 feet to its length.

There Were Tigers On Earth Nearly 2 Million Years Ago

The oldest known tiger fossils date to around 1.6 to 1.8 million years old. Scientists found the remains of tiger-like creatures in China, although the remains showed that the modern tigers' ancestors were smaller.

Although Tigers Are Cats, They Don't Mind Water

Most house cats don't like water, but tigers are actually great swimmers. They can even cross large rivers without any problems. Don't expect the domesticated Fluffy to do the same, though.

White Tigers Are Sort Of Like Mutants

White tigers aren't a subspecies of tiger: their lack of color happens thanks to a recessive gene that occurs once in every 10,000 births. Most white tigers are the result of being bred in captivity.

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