There are two costs for tigers (a) the purchase price and (b) the maintenance cost. The second is much more than the first. Some tigers come free of charge because they have been rescued from some run down, backyard private zoo where they were starved, maltreated and malnourished. These are rescue tigers. A tiger cub might cost $2,500. Exotic cats generally range from around $900 for a bobcat to around $15k for an ocelot. It is about rarity. They get rarer as humans persecute them and destroy their habitat. The costs of maintaining a captive tiger are enormous. Big Cat Rescue (BCR) dramatically highlight this. Squeeze cage (for a vet to attend to a tiger for treatment: $2,000). Forklift truck to move tiger: Hire at $300 per day. Transport tiger to vet for vaccines etc..: Truck at $28,000. Captive habitat must comply with state rules. Some states demand 5 acres for a big cat. One acre might cost $75,000. Perimeter fence (under state legislation): $8,000. Cage: $7,5000.