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Winter Tourism Peak for Siberian Tigers in NE China

A Siberian tiger breeding center in Harbin, northeast China, is set to experience booming numbers of visitors as it capitalizes on tourists flocking to a winter festival in the freezing city.

It is expected that the center's 1,000-plus tigers will attract about 3,000 tourists every day while the 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival remains open, said Liu Dan, chief engineer at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.

The festival kicked off Thursday and will last for three months.

Tian Jun, an amateur photographer from Beijing, joined tourists from Russia, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in visiting the park on Thursday. It was the first time he had been to the attraction and he took a lot of photos.

"The tigers are very cool when they catch prey, and the young ones are so lovely as they lean in their mothers' arms," said Tian.

Thanks to decades of hard work, the number of Siberian tigers in the center hit 1,000 in 2011, while its staff successfully initiated wild breeding and field survival training experiments for the first time the same year, according to Liu.

The number of visitors to the world's largest Siberian tiger breeding center would hit a new high as the Spring Festival draws near, Liu said.

Siberian tigers are among the world's rarest species. Their population in the wild is estimated to stand at around 500, most of which live in east Russia and northeast China.

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