THERE are estimated to be only 5,000 tigers left in the wild, protected as endangered species, so this means they shouldn't be killed nor skins imported.

There are at least 10,000 in zoos or private hands and sadly their pelts are too readily available from continental zoos, but with trade between European zoos (and circuses), who is to say that originally British over-bred big cats etc aren't being killed, even to order/and even for existing British buyers?

Under-cover journalists from the Sunday Times (22/7/07) have found a Belgian dealer and his British agent able to supply stuffed wildlife and their pelts from captive sources. They saw and were offered an elephant, lions and cubs, giraffes, antelopes, cheetahs and yes, tigers, all in stages of preparation.

Some had been killed were below their expected life-span, tigers at even five years and 18 months old, but the reporters were rather suspicious of the excuses.

The Captive Animals' Protection Society thinks zoos are selling and killing inmates before they reach "expensive-illness" age, "and to make room for babies, which zoos believe the public refer to see."

So take heed from these disgusting revelations, and don't respond to zoos' publicity about baby animals. You could well be hastening the early sale and subsequent deaths of their parents and older siblings in European zoos with fewer restrictions on the sale of their skins.

S CLAYTON, Southampton