Usually I try not to get up on my soap box, but this is actually kind of a big issue.
- White tigers are not their own species. They are Bengal or Amur tigers with a genetic mutation that turns their pelt white. Breeders will try to tell you they are trying to conserve the ‘rare species’ of white tiger as a way to justify what they are doing because most people don’t know it’s a lie.
- The white gene causes some pretty bad health issues which is why we don’t see white tigers naturally. They usually die off.
- Being cross-eyed is one health defect that ALL white tigers have (even if they don’t look it) because the gene that carries white coloration also carries the cross-eyed trait. Club feet, cleft palates, spinal deformities and defective organs are also complications that arise from the white gene.
- Because it is so rare to find this type of mutation, severe inbreeding has taken place to produce more animals with the white color. This also causes some severe medical defects as well as early deaths, still births
So maybe you’re wondering why we do see them in zoos? The answer isn’t very surprising: Money. People continue to breed white tigers because they know that’s what people want to see. This is a huge, HUGE issue, and here’s why:
- Only 1 in 4 tiger cubs from a white tiger bred to an orange tiger carrying the white gene are born white. Keep in mind, this is not normal breeding, this is excessive in-breeding.
- Of those 25% born white, only 80% survive due to the medical defects of having the white gene.
- Of those that DO survive and are white, most have immune deficiency, scoliosis of the spine, cleft palates, mental impairments, and of course, the terribly crossed eyes. Due to these defects, very few are actually able to be put on display.
Now, how many cubs do you think have to suffer and die due to either their orange coloring (the 3 out of 4) or the medical issues just so breeders can achieve the very small percentage of individuals they can use?
The answer is: A lot.
This kind of breeding is not okay and any reputable zoo will not participate in it. Luckily, the AZA (American Zoological Association) formally banned the breeding of white tigers in 2011.
There is a tiger named Kenny who is one of the most severe examples of this kind of breeding. Here are some pictures of him:
He has down-syndrome as well as several other medical problems that make him completely dependent on the people who take care of him.
Kenny continues to be kept alive so that people can really see what is happening to white tigers when people breed for the white gene. Here’s something to think about: If this is what one of the surviving white tigers has had to suffer through, think of what all the others must be like who don’t make it to adult hood.
This is 100% real. Please don’t support it.
Thanks for reading.