‘Star Trek’ Actor Says Earth’s 4,000 Tigers Are Worth Saving

Zachary Quinto wants you to drop your bleak view of the future and start acting like the world’s top predator.

Photo by David Jensen.

It’s been a less than stellar time lately for fans of Earth. On July 9, New York magazine published a horrifying story implying that the planet is about to be way too hot for humans. And then researchers revealed that our animal friends aren’t faring so well either, releasing an alarming study contending that Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction event with half the world’s species in extreme decline.

But actor Zachary Quinto (of “Heroes,” “American Horror Story,” and “Star Trek” reboot fame) believes — to borrow a phrase from Capt. Jean-Luc Picard — things are only impossible until they’re not.

While serving on the jury of the Tribeca Film Festival’s documentary category last year, Quinto was inspired by Kate Brooks’ film “The Last Animals,” which documents the heroic work of conservationists, scientists, and activists fighting (and often defeating) tiger poachers. Now he’s been tapped by the World Wildlife Fund to be the face of its #3890 tigers fundraising campaign, aimed at saving the fewer than 4,000 wild tigers in the world that are threatened by poachers in addition to the perils of climate change.

WWF’s initiative essentially provides financial backing to rangers on the ground. “Often times, these are groups of locals who comes together and are trained as rangers and go into the fields to protect these animals against incredibly ruthless, violent poachers, at great risk to themselves and to their families,” says Quinto, who kicked off his campaign participation by removing his social media profile photo for a day in honor of the vanishing tigers.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]There [are] more captive tigers in the world than there are wild tigers. … We’re talking about private collections or people who are keeping animals in their own backyards.[/quote]

Quinto says that tigers also serve as status symbols for members of the moneyed class around the world, who capture and breed them in their own homes as pets. “I was really perplexed and saddened to learn that there were more captive tigers in the world than there are wild tigers,” he says. “And when we talk about captivity, we're not talking about sanctuaries or credited, zoologically supported institutions. Often we're talking about private collections or people who are keeping animals in their own backyards or even potentially feeding the black market with the captive animals that they have. And that's even in the United States.”

Nilanga Jayasinghe, senior programs officer with the WWF, adds that tigers are also particularly vulnerable to poachers. “Every part of a tiger is being used for various things. Their organs can be used for traditional Asian medicine; their skins can be used as rugs or trophies,” she says.

Jayasinghe says it’s not just about a symbolic loss of the tiger population — they’re incredibly integral to the ecosystems they are a part of. “Tigers are incredibly important for our ecosystem,” she says. “As a top predator, they keep everything else in check. If they're not preying on the deer and the things that live in a certain ecosystem, the deer will eat themselves out of house and home.”

Photo by Richard Ashurst/Flickr.

If this all sounds particularly fatalistic, the WWF and Quinto want you to know that the fight isn’t over yet. The WWF’s #3890Tigers campaign aims to increase tiger populations to 6,000 by 2022 (the Chinese zodiac Year of the Tiger), and they believe it’s an achievable goal — contrary to the argument posed in that New York Magazine cover story, which “explores the worst-case scenario and paints this very, very distressing, bleak future of the world,” Quinto says.

“A lot of scientists have refuted that,” he adds, “and come back with a backlash to say that there's still time. I was just listening to an interview the other day about the fact that, if you really look at the way we've committed to switching to renewable energy, we've made a lot of progress. It's not enough progress, but we need to keep that momentum going.”

WWF and Tiger Beer hope to do their part by donating $1 million to the cause and match each donation that comes in to fund the efforts of rangers around the world who are protecting tiger habitats, especially in India, where the bulk of the tiger population resides.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less