Traditionally considered to be a libido stimulator by many Asian cultures, the phallus of Princeton's striped mascot is a much-coveted item. Tiger penises not only have spines to induce female ovulation but also go for thousands of dollars in China, Taiwan and Thailand.
Although many people assume it is the coat of the tiger that draws in poachers, other tiger parts are actually just as desirable from a consumer's point of view.
For example, the demand for tiger penis soup, a reputed aphrodisiac, has greatly contributed to the decline of tiger populations.
Unsurprisingly, the genitals of the panthera tigris (as it is known in scientific circles) are very expensive.
"Tiger penis soup, selling for up to $320 a bowl, is supposed to do wonders for the sex drive," Paul Iredale reported for Reuters in September.
And as Peter Mattheissen described in his book, "The Last of the Wild Tigers," "The genitalia went to rich, flagging Asians. A tiger penis brought $1,700 in Taiwan, where a single bowl of penis soup cost $300."
The tiger, the largest living member of the cat family, is an endangered species, with three of the eight major subspecies already wiped off the face of the earth. At the turn of the twentieth century, an estimated 100,000 undomesticated tigers existed, while only about 5,000 to 7,400 live in the wild today.
The decline of the tiger population has caused many animal welfare groups to protest the consumption of tiger phalluses. "In fact, tiger penis soup has been a serious source of consternation to Western animal welfare groups for quite some time," Emil Guillermo wrote on the website AsianWeek.com last June.
"While the item may have been a boon to the libido of the Chinese, it hasn't been much for the tiger's, as the overall tiger population has dwindled to near extinction," he added.
Despite efforts to crack down on consumption, penis smuggling still goes on. "Trade in tiger parts has been banned in much of Asia in recent years, but the [Wildlife Protection Society of India] estimates that there are still 100 million potential users of tiger-based potions in the world," Iredale reported.
Japan's Environmental Investigation Agency added, "The Government of Japan has failed to outlaw the sale of tiger products which are not readily recognizable. Tiger penises . . . are deemed not readily recognizable."
Despite vocal protests from various environmental groups, it seems the tiger phallus will continue to be a coveted Asian aphrodisiac.
In fact, for those who enjoy culinary adventure or are in need of virility enhancement, a recipe for tiger penis soup can even be found online at Chef2chef.com, assuming one can find a tiger penis readily available. (To date, the 'Wa has yet to carry such an item.)
In addition to various other ingredients, the recipe calls for 10 ounces of tiger meat, 5 claws, and one tiger penis. "Blanch tiger meat and penis in hot water first. Then put the meat, penis and 1,000 year old ginseng to simmer over slow fire for four hours."