- White Tigers - Characteristics and General Info
tigers differ from the standard orange and black tigers in appearance
only. They are characterized by having a creamy white coat with
random black/brown stripes, bright blue eyes, and a pink nose. With
the exception of these cosmetic differences, the white tiger remains
identical in every aspect to the normal color phased tigers. This
striking abnormality is caused by a double recessive allele in the
genetic code; and only occurs in one out of approximately 10,000
births (in the wild). Oddly, this rare color mutation is only found
in the Bengal tiger subspecies in the wild. In captivity, Siberian
and Bengal tigers have interbred creating white hybrid tigers.
In the last
100 years, less then a dozen white tigers have been seen in
Captive white tigers can all trace their ancestry back
to a single white male tiger named Mohan. Maharaja Shri Martand Singh, who
found the baby tiger after his mother was killed, captured Mohan
back in 1951 in central India.
As soon as
Mohan reached sexual maturity, he was bred to a standard female
tigress named Begum. Breading was successful, and the pair produced
three normal color phased infants. Mohan latter bred with one
of his daughters from his second litter with Begum. From this
breading, four healthy white cubs were born. Of these cubs, one
named Mohini was bred with her uncle or half-brother Sampson.
Two of their infants were then sent to the National Zoo here in
the United States. Officials from the National Zoo then bred the
brother and sister, producing another white tiger named Kesari.
These three tigers then formed to core of American white tiger
"Founder Stock". Basically, what this means, is that
every white tiger seen the United States are descendants of Mohan.
All extremely related with very few branches on their family tree!
tigers are extremely beautiful animals, they serve no conservation
purpose, with the exception of increasing attendance to zoos.
Thus increasing public awareness and education of the plight of
all endangered animals. For this reason, the SSP (Species Survival
Plan) coordinators for the various surviving subspecies of tiger
do not authorize breeding the white tiger in their managed programs.
Still this remarkable animal continues to bring hundreds of thousands
of fascinated visitors to zoos and educational facilities across
the world. Public awareness is the first step in conservation.