Did you know there has not been a wild white tiger since the 1950s? It was at this time that the last wild white tiger cub, Mohan, was taken out of the wild and into captivity to be bred to create more white tigers. Mohan was taken out of the wild by Indian Royalty. They tried breeding him with a Siberian tiger in an attempt to get white tigers however the offspring were orange and they were upset. They soon found out that if they would breed Mohan to a Bengal tiger, there was a higher chance of getting a white tiger. Then they found out that to greater their chances of getting white tigers, they would need to breed Mohan to his own offspring. All of the white tigers and even the golden/strawberry tigers can be traced back genetically to him.
The result of inbreeding creates health issues for these animals. The genes that make them white are a genetic mutation called leucism. These genes are recessive so they would have to get it from both parents, and only Bengal tigers can carry this gene. The result of these recessive genes is from inbreeding these animals. These animals can be born with pug noses, cleft plates, crooked teeth, crooked spines, and shorter legs. About 80% of these animals will be born with some of these deformities. These genes even will cross the tiger’s optic nerves which makes them born with some version of cross-eyed, this is found in every white tiger.
White tigers have no conservation value. This means that we do not breed them to keep the “species” alive. These animals are mainly used in the entertainment industry for other facilities to have a “Wow” factor. However, they can also be used in the exotic pet trade industry. Since white tigers are born with health problems and deformities, they usually do not live very long. They develop cancers a lot easier, which gives them a shorter life span. Also, the exotic pet industry knows they are not able to make a profit off of white tigers that don’t look like “normal” tigers. Most of those animals with these severe health issues will be euthanized, and those that don’t have severe deformities are sold or traded. A white tiger can be sold anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.
There is a 1 out of 10,000 chance someone will ever find a white tiger in the wild. As we know of, there are less than 5,000 tigers in the wild today. If you did find one out in the wild, it would not likely survive very long. Having a white coloration, they would be unable to camouflage and get their own food. The normal coloration of a tiger in the wild is going to be a dark orange color with black stripes.
These black stripes help the tiger look smaller by breaking up its coloration. The dark orange color helps camouflage themselves from their prey. They will hunt mainly deer out in the wild who can not see that dark orange color. Deer are actually red-green colorblind, which means it’s harder for a deer to distinguish between reds, greens, browns, and oranges. Instead of the orange color of a tiger, the tigers are actually a greenish color. “Greenish” tigers hiding behind green bushes and grass are harder to see. These white tigers would not survive in the wild on their own as their prey, and other tigers would see them too easily.
What can you do?
You can help these white tigers by educating everyone you know. You can also help by not going to those facilities that are breeding to create white tigers. Animals that are abused and not cared for go through a lot of pain for no reason, just a profitability for the individual who breeds and sells those animals. If you are interested in seeing a white tiger, do your research and go to a true sanctuary. If you know of a facility that has a white tiger and are not accredited, contact the local authorities. Be the voice for these animals, as they do not have a voice for themselves. You can visit the GFAS website, Home Page – Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (sanctuaryfederation.org) to find an accredited sanctuary or zoo.