Smithsonian, singers share song to save Sumatrans National Zoo Veterinarian Carlos Sanchez uses an eye scope to examine a Sumatran tiger cub
Smithsonian, singers share song to save Sumatrans

Indie rock band Portugal. The Man and the Smithsonian's National Zoo released an "endangered song" Tuesday for Earth Day to demonstrate the dwindling number of about 400 Sumatran tigers left in the world.

The new song, "Sumatran Tiger," was recorded on 400 polycarbonate vinyl records that will degrade and self-destruct after a certain number of plays. So the only way to save the song is to digitize and "breed" it by sharing the music through social media, organizers said.

The song was released to 400 participants to share, including celebrities, politicians, policy makers and conservationists. It's being circulated by the zoo, the band and advertising agency DDB New York.

Pamela Baker-Masson, a spokeswoman for the zoo and the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute, said the music campaign is a new way to show how endangered tigers are in the wild and is meant to "inspire action."

Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered and could go extinct due to poaching and habitat loss. The Smithsonian is part of the Global Tiger Initiative that aims to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.

Zach Carothers of the Portland, Ore.-based band said they're asking radio stations and other musicians to help spread the word about tiger conservation. Several members of the band are from Alaska and grew up with a love for the environment and wildlife.

"We've been able to actually see the damage that humans have done, everything from global warming, oil companies, everything," Carothers said. "We just thought this was a very original and very cool way to get the word out about endangered species in general and a specific endangered species that people might just not know about."

The song carries a subtle message about conservation, he said. It was an untitled song written some time ago about Alaska's wildlife that the band reworked and finished with the title "Sumatran Tiger."

"It started with growing up in Alaska and having a lot of those themes of the general cliche of 'you don't know what you have 'til it's gone' kind of idea," Carothers said.

The Smithsonian created a website to help track the song's progress:

Critical thinking challenge: How does the self-destructing song emphasize the plight of the tigers?

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  • Ashleyjd1
    4/23/2014 - 10:04 a.m.

    It's really sad that some people have no regard for animal life and they only care about making money, but I'm glad some people are trying to help the animals.

  • JericaD77
    4/24/2014 - 08:23 a.m.

    I love tigers, they are so pretty! The fact they are endangered is depressing. It is great that the bands are trying to raise awareness and that they want to help. I think it is a perfect way to show what endangered really means, some people take it lightly, and others understand. For those that take it lightly, comparing only 400 copies of a song, is a perfect idea.

  • NP30yankee
    4/24/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    Saving these animals play a huge role in our lives and to see people harming wildlife just for the money is quite pathetic. However, organizations like this one looks to be the only hope for these animals.

  • MarissaColvin
    4/24/2014 - 08:38 a.m.

    It is really sad that people really don't care about animals the way we did a few years ago. People view tigers as monsters, but I say that tigers are friendly if you really get to tame them. They just don't care anymore, and it's really degrading.

  • John0724-YYCA
    4/24/2014 - 08:38 p.m.

    The song that the rock band "Portugal the man" sounds pretty weird. And when I saw the Sumatran tiger the eyes look huge than the Sumatran tigers I saw in the zoo. I agree that the tigers need our help because they are almost extinct.

  • im23nolife
    4/25/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    It symbolizes that over time the population of these tigers will eventually disappear just as the record does over time. Also, it brings the thought of sharing it more urgent because the disc will soon be gone like the Sumatran species.

  • cm10red
    4/25/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    I like this idea of how to spread the word of this endangered species. I really they are right about doubling the population in 8 years. I hear about poachers a lot now, and it makes me sick. How could you kill animals that have done nothing to you, jut for your little needs? It's just wrong.

  • Sarah H
    4/25/2014 - 01:54 p.m.

    It's a good thing people are now taking time to put more awareness on endangered species. We don't want all of those species to be gone; we want our children and our children's children to be able to experience those animals as well! I hope that the song gets its point across and that many people hear it. I have yet to hear it and hope to, but for the time being I'm glad there is a song out there for these tigers and hopefully many more to come.

  • TyroneW-Syl
    4/25/2014 - 03:38 p.m.

    Why doesn't the government that owns the land the tigers live on do something about the depletion of habitat for the wild tigers? Why don't the U.S. do something about it also?

  • TaylorL-Syl
    4/25/2014 - 03:49 p.m.

    I think the tiger is so cute and im glad that people are trying to help them. and I though it was really nice thatv vthey made a song for them and stuff