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February 17, 2010

Welcoming the Year of the Tiger

Last Sunday, February 14th was the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is also the beginning of the Chinese Spring Festival, with celebrations and observations by ethnic Chinese and others around the world, welcoming in the Year of the Tiger. Conservationists are hoping to capitalize on the Year of the Tiger by calling attention to the plight of the endangered big cats. The number of wild tigers is thought to have dropped from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to fewer than 3,000 today. In September, the World Bank and Russia will hold a summit on tiger conservation in Vladivostok, encouraging countries that are host to wild tigers to reach agreements to further protect and expand their habitat. (37 photos total)

A visitor looks at a crystal tiger which was made up of 955 steel wires and 12,888 small crystal balls at a department store in Shanghai February 4, 2010. The artwork, which is the size of an actual tiger, was designed as a gift for the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger, which began on February 14, 2010, Xinhua News Agency reported. (REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Taiwanese pray and burn incense at a Taoist temple in Taipei on February 14, 2010. Taiwanese traditionally pray for good fortune on the first day of the Lunar new year to mark their most important annual holiday. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images) #

Passengers queue to buy train tickets to go home at the Shanghai Railway Station January 26, 2010. China's railways are expected to carry 210 million passengers during the upcoming 40-day travel peak as people flock home for the traditional Spring Festival holiday, according to the Ministry of Railway on January 5, Xinhua News Agency reported. (REUTERS/Aly Song) #

A baby sits in a basket while waiting to board a train at a railway station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China on January 25, 2010. (REUTERS/Sean Yong) #

A few of the 300 residents taking part in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people painting tigers in multiple locations gather around a tiger sculpture by Chinese sculptor Yuan Xikun at Beijing Zoo February 6, 2010. The event is being held ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #

A salesperson wears a tiger-shaped balloon on sale at a Lunar New Year market in Hong Kong February 9, 2010, five days before the celebration of the Chinese Year of Tiger. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip) #

A trainer plays with a tiger at Dalian Forest Zoo in Dalian, Liaoning province, February 7, 2010. The troupe will give a performance during the upcoming Chinese Lunar Year which begins on February 14. (REUTERS/Jacky Chen) #

Local worshippers launch sky lanterns as part of the celebrations for Chinese New Year on its eve, outside Longhua temple in Shanghai, China on February 13, 2010. (REUTERS/Nir Elias) #

A worker changes the light bulbs in lanterns ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur February 11, 2010. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #

People touch a stone sculpture of a tiger at the Baiyun Guan Taoist Temple to pray for good luck in the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger, in Beijing, China, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. (AP Photo) #

Chinese men perform a fire dragon dance at Happy Valley temple fair celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing on February 15, 2010. (REUTERS/Christina Hu) #

A rare 12-year-old Sumatran tiger named "Trenggani" jumps into the water within its enclosure at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 12, 2010. Authorities said there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers in the rapidly shrinking Indonesian forests from about 1,000 in the 1970s, with 70 in captivity. Environmental campaigners see 2010 as crucial to spread their message as East Asian nations celebrate the Year of the Tiger. (ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images) #

Worshipers burn incense at the Yonghe Gong (Lama Temple) in Beijing on the first day of the new Chinese New Year February 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Grace Liang) #

A man performs martial arts on the top of wooden totem poles during a show celebrating the Spring Festival at a park in Xiangfan, Hubei province, on the first day of the Chinese New Year February 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A performer plays the role of the emperor during a re-enactment of an ancient ceremony of Qing Dynasty emperors praying for good harvest and fortune at the Temple of Earth on February 13, 2010 in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #

A stilt performer takes a cellphone call ahead of a show at Longtanhu temple in Beijing as part of the Spring Festival on February 15th, 2010 (© Douglas Bakshian) #

Mannequins decorated with tiger heads are displayed in front of a clothing boutique ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan on February 5, 2010. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh) #

A Chinese boy points at fireworks as he shops with his family for the Lunar New Year at a government-authorized shop in Beijing on February 7, 2010. Chinese traditionally return to their home towns and villages for family reunions with this year's travel period stretching from January 30 to March 10. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images) #

Locals light fireworks and firecrackers to celebrate Chinese New Year on a street in downtown Shanghai on February 13, 2010. (REUTERS/Nir Elias) #

Fireworks illuminate the skyline to celebrate the Lantern Festival on February 13, 2010 in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #

Siberian tigers sit up gesturing to visitors during a show at a zoo on the second day of the Lunar New Year in Fuzhou in southeast China's Fujian province, Monday, Feb. 15, 2010. (AP Photo) #

Yu Ying, an ethnic Chinese, 16, burns prayer papers during Chinese New Year at a temple in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on February 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #

Worshipers light incense at the Yonghe Gong (Lama Temple) on the first day of the Chinese New Year in Beijing, China, on Sunday Feb. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) #

Chinese Taoist worshipers light joss-sticks as they pray beside the Dafo temple in southwest China's Chongqing municipality on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year on February 14, 2010. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man puts the final touches on a giant pagoda made from 18,888 Chinese buns ahead of the upcoming Lunar New Year festival at a shopping mall in Bangkok on February 8, 2010. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images) #

A dragon-shaped lantern is lit up at a temple fair in Nanjing, Jiangsu province February 15, 2010. (REUTERS/Sean Yong) #

In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, a Buddhist monk plays with a young tiger at Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Forest Monastery in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The monastery and its monks are dedicated to conservation and what has become a wildlife sanctuary for tigers. [Note: there is some controversy about the methods and role of this monastery - for more, read here]. Estimates for the number of tigers in the wild has fallen in the past decade to somewhere between 3,600 to 3,200 according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society. Many of the tigers at the Thai temple are the cubs of parent tigers that have been killed in the wild. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) #

Chinese folk artists wait to perform to celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Tiger on February 16, 2010 in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #

A worker introduces a ceramic tiger to visitors at an exhibition hall of Xinshiwan ceramic factory in Foshan, Guangdong province, February 4, 2010. The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger begins on February 14. (REUTERS/Joe Tan) #

Villagers work on tiger paintings at a workshop in Wanggongzhuang village of Minquan county, Henan province February 2, 2010. Some 700 out of 1400 residents in the village take up tiger painting as a career and produce over 40,000 pieces of work per year which are sold worldwide, bringing more than 30,000,000 yuan ($4,393,673) to the village every year, according to the head of the village committee. The village is thus named "No.1 Tiger Painting Village of China". (REUTERS/Donald Chan) #

Fireworks explode behind financial office buildings near the Victoria Harbor to celebrate the Chinese new year in Hong Kong on Monday, Feb. 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) #

A man walks past traditional lanterns on display at Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Buddhist Temple in Jenjarom, 100 kilometers (61 miles) west of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) #

A Chinese opera actor waits to perform during a temple fair celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing February 16, 2010. (REUTERS/Christina Hu) #

A villager, dressed in traditional costumes, walks to a performance during a New Year celebration on the outskirts of Wuhu, Anhui province, China on February 17, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Visitors ride on the Apollo Wheel at the Happy Valley Park during the Chinese New Year holidays in Beijing, China on February 17, 2010. (REUTERS/Christina Hu) #

A girl blows snow off a railing at Wuquanshan temple in Lanzhou, China on the first day of the Chinese New Year, February 14, 2010. (REUTERS/Aly Song) #

Rain Siu Wingshan (left) and Zero Yau Man-hong kiss after their traditional chinese wedding ceremony outside a shopping center in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district on February 14, 2010 - bith Valentine's Day and the first day of the Chinese New Year. (DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images) #