Mills on the prowl to raise awareness

Aerin Herrera

On Tueday Oct 18, J.A Mills visited Whittier College to speak about her book, Blood of the Tiger, 

Mills works to end tiger farming in China, and her goal for this talk was to educate and engage students to take action themselves. Students were not aware of the seriousness of this issue. “I knew tigers were going extinct, but I did not know that it was because of tiger trade and farming,” first-year Jasmine Linares said. 

The talk explained that in China, tigers have become marketable items. Their paws, skins, and skeletons are highly desireable consumer goods, sparking the growth and popularity of tiger farms. 

Mills explained why tigers are so desired in Chinese culture: they are used in ancient Chiniese medicine, and their skins are a sign of wealth and status. She said one particular farm has a winery attached to it where they use the skeletons to soak in wine, making it more valuable. The tigers are also turned into attractions at places like Tiger Kingdom in Thailand, where tourists can take selfies with heavily drugged tigers. 

On Mills’ first trip to China, she was told by the Chinese official that served as her guide that they are going to farm endangered animals “just like cows and pigs.”

That type of farming promotes poaching. “The main problem is that tiger farming stimulates demand for tiger products, and consumers believe the wild tiger is the best, stimulating poaching,” said Mills.  The analogy she gave was how cubic zirconia is cheap and easily available, but real diamonds are more expensive and harder to get, so farm tigers would be cubic zirconia, while wild tigers are real diamonds. Mills highlighted the fact that there are around 6,000 tigers on farms and only 4,000 in the wild, which is far less than the amount of elephants and rhinos in the wild.

   When Mills opened the floor to questions, she was able to expand more on her thoughts about how serious this issue is.  She explained how if it weren’t for animals like tigers, forests would have been completely destroyed for industrial reasons long ago, but because of them they are still here. 

“Forests are the lungs of the world.” Mills said. “By risking their extinction, we are risking our extinction.” Mills wants Whittier students to care about this issue, if not for the tigers’ sake, for humanity’s.

 After the talk, students did not neccessarily see eye-to-eye. Some walked away with an enlightened outlook and the desire to help end tiger trade by talking to representatives. “I thought she was a great orator, and I fully support putting an end to tiger trade,” said first-year Enrique Rodriguez. Others could care less. “Personally, I have takenselfies with tigers that were under the influence of drugs. I found that to be inhumane, but I believe that Americans trying to get rid of tiger trade is an attack on Chinese culture,” said first-year Jeff Rusin.