This Surprising Highway Visitor Tells A Tragic Story

Mandy Hollman
Videos of a tiger cub running loose on a Qatar highway have gone viral. This incident is bigger than one cat. Here's why it matters for tigers and those who love them.

Tiger at Doha Qatar Road

It’s an average workday commute. You’re sitting in traffic, yawning at tail lights, when suddenly you see a tiger!

Motorists in Qatar actually witnessed a tiger cub loping along between parked cars on a highway in Doha, the capital city. One driver took an amazing video of the striped cat wandering the street:

The arid Middle Eastern country has no native tiger species.

It turns out this tiger was an escaped pet. The majestic animal had an ugly chain around its neck, trailing behind it on the street.

Some Qatari elites illegally keep tigers and other wild cats as pets, despite government safety warnings. Another, much sadder, video shows the cub falling out of a moving truck minutes before its highway romp:

The tiger was eventually recovered:

There’s no denying that this tiger is adorable. The footage of it casually walking between cars seems amusing – until you consider what it means for the species’ survival.

Read More: Tiger Numbers Are Increasing In India

Tigers are among the most endangered animals on the planet, with as few as 3,000 individuals left in the wild. A century ago, they numbered over 100,000.  Capturing them for the pet trade depletes an already decimated population. Even buying tigers born in captivity contributes to the inhumane, environmentally irresponsible practices of the exotic pet trade. Sadly, as long as tigers fetch a price, people will continue to exploit them.

Read More: Kids In The UAE Prefer Endangered Pets To Stuffed Animals

This problem is not limited to Qatar; tigers are being sold as pets all over the world, sometimes even legally — and the U.S. is no exception. The number of pet tigers in the U.S. alone actually exceeds the population left in the wild. Lawmakers have been working to strengthen and enforce regulations about big cats in captivity. You can help by supporting initiatives like the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act,” withholding your business from operations that exploit tigers (like unofficial backyard zoos and gimmicky photo ops), and reporting illegal pet owners.

If you love tigers, don’t keep them as pets!

Banner Image Credit: Twitter ?@Y7News