The Year of the Tiger has got off to a tragic start for the endangered big cat in China.

At least 11 Siberian tigers starved to death in a zoo in northeastern China after its owners ran out of money and fed the predators just one or two chicken carcasses a day over the past few weeks.

Six of the tigers died recently on a single day at the privately owned Iceberg Animal Zoo in Shenyang, the Liaoshen Evening News reported.

The animals had been confined in small, wet cages, it said.

Two tigers at the zoo were shot by police in November last year after the hungry animals mauled a zoo worker as he was clearing snow from a path. One newspaper reported at the time that the tigers being starving.

In late 2007, wildlife experts were shocked when four tigers at the zoo killed and devoured another tiger with which they had shared their living quarters for five years.

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