On September 27, 2003 Vladivostok celebrated the Tiger Day Festival. It is a wonderful tradition initiated several years ago in the Russian Far East by Phoenix, a local non-governmental organization, with support from the international community. Having started as a small school event, which toddled, as a cub, through Vladivostok streets in 2000, the Tiger Day won the city holiday status in a year and grew up into a wonderful festival that leaps boldly across the country, from Moscow to Vladivostok.
For the past few years, annual Tiger and Leopard festivals have been held in Vladivostok, Russian Far East. Last year, the first ever Russian Tiger and Leopard Day was held at Moscow Zoo, in attendance was HRH Prince Michael of Kent KCVO.
This year a series of public environmental events devoted to conservation of large predators started on the 13th of September in Luchegorsk city, Pozharsky district, Primorye and began with a cycling race. While driving through the city streets, schoolchildren invited the citizens and guests of the city to take part in Tiger Day celebration. Then, cyclists joined the other children and a big festive parade moved towards the City Park. There were performances of theatrical children’s studios, dance groups, young singers and poets. Having started in Luchegorsk, the holiday leaped across the country.
On the 27th of September the Tiger and Leopard Day celebration was held in the cities of the Russian Far East: Vladivostock and Khabarovsk, and in 30 zoos all over Russia, CIS and Europe – from Edinburgh, Barcelona, Antwerp, Rome to Minsk, Moscow, Perm and Novosibirsk! The aim was to create awareness of the desperate situation facing the Russian wild big cats and to recognize how zoos in Europe are now contributing to conservation programs.
In 2003 Tiger Day celebration in Vladivostok was organized by Phoenix, WWF-RFE, Wildlife Conservation Society in conjunction with city administration and was supported by Save the Tiger Fund, 21st Century Tiger, AMUR, and IFAW. This year the holiday attracted about 3,000 citizens and guests of the city. IFAW team including Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW-Russia, Birgith Sloth, Nature Conservation and Management Specialist and Vivek Menon, Executive Director of Wildlife Trust of India, took an active part in the celebration. In the afternoon the festive march started from the park near Maksim Gorky Theatre and moved towards Central Square where citizens and guests could show the main performance. The mayor made a speech and called everybody to conserve Amur tigers. Many contests and quizzes were carried out for kids on five special grounds called “Maugli”, “Forest Arbat”, “Flower meadow”, “Masks and costumes”. Art contests and shows lasted all day long. The winners received prizes for the best painting, the best song, and the best costume of a tiger and many others. The festival attracted people’s attention to the most burning issues of wildlife conservation in the region as well as gave them an opportunity to participate in resolving them.
On October 04, 2003 Tiger Day was celebrated in Novopokrovka town, Krasnoarmeisky district, north of Primorye. During the holiday there were a variety of fun events including dancers, musicians, competitions, face painting, dancing and lectures about conservation.
During 2003 and 2004 there will be a campaign run amongst 200 zoos, all of which are members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), to increase awareness of all the world’s tigers. This special “Russian Tiger and Leopard Day” is part of this 2 year long campaign.
The most crucial aspect of the day is to convey the message to the people of Russia and Europe that the precious wildlife of
Russia, particularly the famous tigers and leopards of the Russian Far East, is in grave danger. Of these unique Russian animals, there are ONLY 30 Amur leopards left living in the wild and about 350 Amur tigers. The aim of the day is to educate young people about the extreme problems facing these big cats and encourage everyone to lend their support to help save them.