Find Articles in:
Home & Garden

Content provided in partnership with

Endangered tiger earns its stripes as the world's most popular beast

THE DOG might be man's best friend, but the world's favourite animal is the tiger, according to an international survey published today.

The great Asian cat, threatened with extinction in much of its range, beat the dog by a whisker in a poll of more than 50,000 people in 73 countries.

The dolphin was third in the survey, which asked people to rank 10 animals in order of preference on a shortlist. The voting followed a series of documentaries, each featuring one of the shortlisted creatures.

After the winning three came the horse, the lion, the snake, the elephant, the chimpanzee, the orang-utan and the whale.

The survey was carried out by the cable and satellite television channel Animal Planet during September and October.

Asked to explain the overwhelming attraction of Panthera tigris, Dr Candy d'Sa, an animal behaviourist, said: "We can relate to the tiger, as it is fierce and commanding on the outside, but noble and discerning on the inside.

"In contrast, the dog is a loyal and respectful creature and brings out the lighter, more communicative side of human nature. The large number of votes that the dolphin received shows that we as humans appreciate grace, beauty and vivacity," she said.

A total of 52,755 viewers took part in the poll, which saw the tiger finish with 10,902 votes, only 17 more than the dog. The ever- popular dolphin swam into third place with 7,064 votes.

The tiger is also clearly Britain's favourite animal, according to the survey. More than 9,000 viewers cast a vote for their favourite animal in the UK, where the top three mirrored the global result.

But the margin of victory for the tiger over the dog was much more definite - by 1,902 (20.5 per cent of the vote) to 1,491 (17 per cent).

However, British viewers departed from the rest of the world by voting the orang-utan into fourth place, surprisingly ahead of the horse - the orang-utan was ninth in the global vote - with the chimpanzee into seventh place (it was eighth in the world vote). Dr d'Sa said she thought this could be accounted for by Britons' "quirky sense of humour".

Though the dog failed to make it to the top of the global chart, it did bound into first place in South Africa, Poland, Romania and south-east Asia. Meanwhile, the campaign has revealed the snake has a strong fan- base in Germany, where it was voted into fourth place.

A further surprise was that the other big cat contender, the lion, lagged far behind the tiger in popularity; globally, the lion only received a third of the votes that the tiger did.

It is thought that there may now be as few as 5,000 tigers left in the wild, in areas ranging from Asiatic Russia, through Indo-China, to India. Hunting and habitat destruction are behind their decline. Three of the eight known sub-species - the Caspian tiger, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger - are already extinct.

The tiger's victory was welcomed by conservationists. Callum Rankine, international species officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature conservation charity, said the result gave him hope. "If people are voting for tigers as their favourite animal, it means they recognise their importance, and hopefully the need to ensure their survival," he said.


1 Tiger 21%

2 Dog 20%

3 Dolphin 13%

4 Horse 10%

5 Lion 9%

6 Snake 8%

7 Elephant 6%

8 Chimpanzee 5%

9 Orang-utan 4.5%

10 Whale 3.5%


1 Tiger 20.5%

2 Dog 17%

3 Dolphin 11.5%

4 Orang-utan 10.5%

5 Horse 10%

6 Snake 8%

7= Chimpanzee 7.5%

7= Elephant 7.5%

9 Lion 4.5%

10 Whale 3%

Dogs and dolphins rated highly in both polls

Copyright 2004 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

1 -  2 -  Next