Siberian Tiger Park covers an area of more than a million square meters (more than 250 acres) in an area just to the north of Sun Island Park across a branch of the Songhua River. It was set up as a place to breed and house Siberian tigers. The Siberian tiger is the largest of the big cats. The breeding program has been very successful, and there are now about 800 Siberian tigers (about 100 can be viewed) there along with other large cats like lions and pumas. This is amazing, since in it is estimated that there are only about 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild. Almost all of these wild ones are in Russia, and maybe 12 are in China. It is China's 2nd largest Siberian tiger park. The site includes a museum, breeding areas, and pens for the other large cats. It is amazing to see a group of striped golden tigers walk and run together. Visitors to the park can view a few score Siberian tigers that are on exhibit up close through fences, see other large cats such as Bengal tigers, lions, pumas and several other kinds, ride in vans or small buses into a field where they run and may chase the vehicle or hop on it, and help to feed the animals.
Siberian Tiger Park is just to the north of Sun Island Park in Harbin. Harbin is in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. The city is in China's northern-most province, and it is north of North Korea. Its international airport is a two hour flight away from Beijing. Travel from the airport to the park is about an hour by taxi over the Song Wan Jeung Gong Road Bridge (Song Wan Jeung Gonglu Da Qiao) that crosses a small river from the north. Harbin is an overnight train ride away from Beijing.
Siberian tigers are the largest surviving breed of tigers, and are the biggest of the big cats. Males are commonly about 225 kilograms (500 pounds). They used to range in the northeastern part of Asia, Russia and Central Asia. However, the western Siberian tiger population may now be extinct. They were almost extinct in eastern Asia and Russia. In 1986, the Siberian Tiger Park was established to house and breed them, and the Siberian Tiger Park is now China's second largest tiger park. Several other parks were also set up in China. It is said that that park started with about a dozen or two dozen tigers. There are now more than 800 there, and they are reproducing at a rate of about 100 cubs a year.
To prevent inbreeding problems, the park is conducting DNA testing on some animals and practicing selective breeding. But the success of the park's breeding program is causing financial problems. These animals eat a lot. The cost of housing and feeding the tigers is said to be about 4,000 USD per animal. This is a lot of money in China. The average Chinese worker doesn't make this much.
About 5,000 tigers are in captivity in tiger parks and zoos across the country. What to do with so many animals is an issue.
The attractions you can see any time of the year include St. Sophia Cathedral, the Russian-Chinese Market area in the central old district, and the old foreign-made architecture and the shops in the old district of the city. These highlights are within a few kilometers distance of Siberian Tiger Park. During the winter, the ice and snow exhibitions for the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival are in the same area. This is one of the four biggest winter festivals in the world. The Ice Lantern Festival exhibits are in Zhaolin Park and in Stalin Park on the bank of the Songhua River. The Grand World of Ice and Snow snow sculpture exhibits are on Sun Island Park. Sun Island Park is a large park, resort, and recreation area next to Siberian Tiger Park. You can also take a three hour train ride to Yabuli Ski Resort that is one of China's best.
The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base: another animal near extinction that China is trying to preserve are giant pandas. These large, lethargic animals are more difficult to breed however. The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is located on Futoushan Mountain in the northern suburbs of the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province.