The tragedy brings to light the suffering caused by exotic pet ownership, particularly for big cats, who endure brutal lives in cages. Barred from expressing any natural behaviors, they live in unnaturally small areas, without all the social groups, prey and dynamic landscape that life in the wild would offer.
What's more, many big cat owners buy young lions and tigers when they are cubs, not realizing that they will become too large and expensive to keep. This results in surplus adult tigers, who are often killed in canned hunts if they aren't lucky enough to find a place in already-burdened sanctuaries.
The death of this young tiger cub is sad and shameful, and so is the Chinese government's refusal to seriously punish his owners.