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HARBIN - Zoologists at a North China breeding center announced on Friday the beginning of a wilderness training program for Siberian tigers.
Seven Siberian tigers are participating in the program and the figure is expected to rise to 11 by the end of the year, said sources with the Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Garden, the world's largest breeding center for Siberian tigers.
Participating tigers must be cubs born within the breeding center, said chief engineer Liu Dan, adding that they will be sent to demarcated areas within the center's reserve accompanied by their mothers.
"It's an arduous experiment," Liu said, adding that the cubs must be three months or older in order to endure the wilderness.
Siberian tigers are one of the world's rarest animal species. Only 300 are believed to be living in the wild, with 20 in northeast China.
China has been trying to save the species through active breeding programs. The Heilongjiang center has bred over 1,000 Siberian tigers since opening in 1996, when it had just eight of the large cats.