The Only White Tiger In Great Britain

British Zoos and the White Tiger

Zoological Gardens in the British Isles are all under the authority of the 'Zoo Licencing Act'. This is amongst the best if not THE best zoo legislation in the world. Any collection open to the public which includes animals which are not normally domesticated in Great Britain or Northern Ireland falls under its jurisdiction.

Though the act is comprehensive it is not restrictive and a British Zoo which wanted to keep a White Tiger could do so providing it went through the proper channels. It is however extremely unlikely that any zoo which was actually genuinely sincere about conservation would ever consider aquiring a White Tiger. The acquisition and maintenance of White Lions is bad enough pandering as it does to fashion and pure commercialism rather than conservation.

The only white tiger in Great Britain then is held by a circus.

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kh-67/3135499538/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kh-67/3135499538/

There is only one circus in Great Britain which still has acts which involve exotic animals. This is the circus owned and managed by Martin Lacey. In July 2010 the circus held six tigers. Five of these are normal coloured and the sixth is a young 'white' female called 'Tiara'.

As the circus claims to have bred all its tigers "into the ninth generation", one wonders just where 'Tiara' came from. Was she home bred or imported from somewhere else?

The Truth About White Tiger Breeding

The video below gives a little more information to the one above. It does though have an unfortunate title which lumps all zoos together. This is not the case. There are good zoos and bad zoos. Good zoos would never entertain the idea of breeding White Tigers. 

No Reputable Zoo Would Breed White Tigers!

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Comments 27 comments

lizmoss71 profile image

lizmoss71 6 years ago from Orpington, UK

There is a White tiger in the Isle of Wight zoo, so the circus one isn't the only one in Britain. I don't know if they breed White tigers but they certainly have at least one.

Good name for a hub, shame it isn't true!


lizmoss71 profile image

lizmoss71 6 years ago from Orpington, UK

There is a White tiger called Zena at Isle of Wight Zoo.

Great title for a hub, shame it isn't true.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

iizmoss - Great...thank you for that. I thought there may be another couple lurking about. This was one of the reasons I used the title I did...to smoke out the others. Another problem with white tigers is that they are 'generic' and, as such, if they appear at all in records will just appear as tiger without any mention of the colour.

Thank you for reading and commenting.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Hmm don't know about Great Britain, but remember seeing one some years ago at the Gold Coast in Australia


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

cindyvine - you are right, Dreamworld promote them....sadly.


lizmoss71 profile image

lizmoss71 6 years ago from Orpington, UK

I can't watch the videos on this computer. What's the issue with white tigers?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

iizmoss71 - In essence the breeding of white tigers is cruel and contributes nothing towards conservation...in fact keeping them at all is anti-conservation because it takes up valuable space that could be used for genuine conservation. Please read: http://hubpages.com/education/White-Tiger-Breeding...


dealrocker profile image

dealrocker 6 years ago from California

Nice hub again! Keep up the great work!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you frodrawing the attention to this terrible suffering. You are doing such a fine job about the bad relationship of man and animals. Looking foreward to some more.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Hello, hello - I remain in favour of animals in zoos but they must be good zoos which offer care and conservation.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

A very beautiful animal I know that much :)


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

billyaustindillon - there is no denying the beauty. It is just a pity that they are created by cruelty and greed.


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

Wow Peter, I had no idea about the origin of white tigers. The zoo here in Cincinnati is claimed to be one of the best in the country and several years ago they were known for breeding white tigers. Before writing this comment I went to their web site to check it out and while they still list the white tiger as being part of the zoo I was unable to click on the words white tiger and in the history they no longer even mention that they were known breeding them. Makes me curious. The zoo is supported by tax dollars and they don't disclose any of the financial info, which alone I find absurd. Great hub, thanks for the eye-opener. Peace!! Tom


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Many 'good' zoos used to show white tigers (and a few still do...though don't breed them) and in the early days it was not so bad. Every year that passes the inbreeding and cross breeding becomes worse. The 'bad' zoos promote a lie citing conservation. One of my missions in life is to make people, and especially the press, aware of the truth about white tigers.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Wow, a white tiger! I'd like to see a live one.

What a highly informational hub! I'm happy that through this hub you are able to "smoke out" as you said the other remaining ones around.

You are right, in-breeding is always a problem in zoos.

Thanks for sharing Peter!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jill of alltrades - Thanks for reading. Actually the in-breeding is not a problem so much in good zoos who work closely cooperatively on an international basis. It is the commercial, money grabbing places that cause and compound the problem.


IOW Zoo 6 years ago

Hi,

Just to clarify, The Isle of Wight Zoo does have a white tiger (Zena) but she wasn't born here and won't be bred from. Our keepers make it clear in their talks that we don't consider breeding white tigers to be ethical, and we try to educate people about the bad practises in the past that led to the current situation.

Our tiger population is mostly aging cats, several of them rescue animals with circus-type backgrounds. Zena came to us as a cub 14 years ago because she needed hand-rearing.

Sonia, IOW Zoo


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Sonia from IOW Zoo. I am delighted to learn that Zena is used to inform people of the bad practises which go hand in hand with white tigers. Sadly it is not all in the past and still continues today. As long as newspapers use words like 'rare' or 'endangered' when they mention white tigers that the explotative commercial zoos will continue to breed.


WildBio 6 years ago

Fristly, there are quite a few more white tigers in other zoos across the UK, not just IOW. Secondly, I definitely don't agree with breeding white tigers and this whole thing about reintroducing them is nonsense. They DO though, albeit surprisingly, play a part in conservation. As you may/may not know, the reality is the majority of zoo animals will never be released - the main contribution zoos make for conservation is funding. So they aren't really taking up space when you know the reality. Much of the money taken in by zoos is often given to conservation programmes in the field, and this money comes from the paying public. However annoying it may be, white tigers do attract visitors and therefore more money for REAL conservation. If it were up to me there would be no white tigers in captivity, but, now they're here, I do see the certain benefits it comes with. As long as reputable collections like the IOW zoo explain about their real history, they might have a place in conservation. Just try to look at the bigger picture...


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

WildBio - Thank you for your response. I would be very interested to learn the locations in other zoos across the UK. There cannot be many so a list would be interesting. As you are probably aware there is no studbook for subspecific hybrids....which most White Tigers are. Where hybrids are mentioned in ISIS no mention is made of tiger colour.

I am familiar with the argument of White Tigers raising money for conservation and don't doubt that the cash is raised. However there is a profit motive there too. It would be very interesting to learn exactly the percentage that actually goes to conservation. I don't agree with the keeping of white tigers as they send out the wrong message to other zoos around the world.

As to the 'majority of zoo animals will never be released'...nor should they for as long as the problems remain in the wild. Modern zoo breeding programmes are about the maintenance of genetically viable populations in captivity with a view to possible release in the future. This may be a hundred years from now. We just don't know what may happen between now and then.

I do see the bigger picture....in fact I see it in a much much bigger frame than the majority of people.


WildBio 6 years ago

I know that there's one in Paradise Wildlife Park, one in Colchester Zoo and more in West Midland's Safari Park. I'm sure there's a few others lying around. Thankfully though I think West Midland's is the only one that appears to be breeding them and from what I know the others were rescued or similar. In regards to the amount of money that goes to conservation, I know that last year UK zoos gave more than £10 million to field conservation which is an interesting statistic. So it's not all bad, but not all good either. I do agree that the white tiger situation seriously needs to be sorted, maybe the best weapon is education like the information in this article. I just hope this new plan to release them is only a fad!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

WildBio - Are you sure about West Midland Safari Park? They have White Lions but I don't recollect seeing any white tigers. I have never visited Paradise Wildlife Park but have visited most other UK zoos. True enough I could have overlooked the Colchester animal when I was last there but I don't think there will be many, if any others lying around in public zoos, perhaps one or two privately.

UK zoos do excellent work for field conservation....some much more than others, and so they should. Education is, as you say, all important.

The UK zoos do not, I am pleased to say, justify keeping and hand rearing white tigers for handling in the name of conservation.


WildBio 6 years ago

unless they have been moved recently, i'm pretty sure about West Midland's tigers.

http://www.wmsp.co.uk/wildlife_safaritv_series1.ph...

scroll down to the section "Programme Two" - an interesting few paragraphs, especially the last line...!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Interesting - thank you. I note that it was four years ago now so they probably have more. I wonder what they plan to do with them. They do have the white lions, white wallabies, white rheas...what next?


bigcatman profile image

bigcatman 4 years ago

Hi Peter, how's you, health any better?

As you know Glasgow had numerous exotic cats, from Ranger the partial black lion, tigers, to the many melanistic leopards, Geofroy's cats, clouded leopards and others we bred and we had kept. The Bartlett Society gave a list of certain cats that were firsts, held in a captive or bred state and, I do believe that Glasgow had the first bred Amur Tiger and Geofroy's cat. However, the tigers and lions we had from 1997 upto we closed were as many will now know, owned by M. Chipperfield and R.Cawley. There was much debate at the time, via myself, LUTZ KUSCHINSKI (curator and great friend) and others, that keeping such mutants were harming the fundamentals of the zoo itself and was harming the fabric of the good work done thus far. Roger Edwards who took over as Director when O'Grady passed away (both of us were filming in the cheetah enclosure minutes before he had his brain seizure), Edwards said that we had no choice in keeping these tigers due to finacial reasons, cited was that our tigers were partailly Amur and Bengal cross, which the press got a hold of and at the same time our lions interbred. The lion issue was down to the fact that not always contraception injections work, and not down to the lack of husbandry as the press made it out as.

Anyway, our tigers were just before Cawley shipped them out to Spain via M.Lacey, had a DNA sample taken and it came back as the tigers were carrying the white gene. It was pointed out that these three female young tigers (we had four, mother and three of hers. Mother called Iesha) would produce in their first litter all white cubs. Although the zoo was closed and we were on our last throws of having other zoos take our stock of animals, sad as it may have been, we were happy that these tigers and lions were not in the gene-pool for anything but for Lacy and Cawley. I did hear that the tigers did have white cubs and Martin Lacey did indeed take them from Cawley. I may be correct in saying that...

Anyway....mutants sorry, not for me and not for good conservation.......


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Health is 99.9% thanks. Long may it continue. I reckon age makes recovery slower. Thanks for the comment. I was no fan of Chipperfield, Lacey or Cawley.


bigcatman profile image

bigcatman 4 years ago

Glad to hear that health is better and as you say, long may it continue Peter. I was never a great fan either, moreso, even when I voiced concerns about the animals within my charge at that time, Cawley would always take Edwards or O'Grady to the side, out of ear-shot, then I would be over-ruled. Money and other ego things always get in the way and that is a sad day when it happens... It even happened to O'Grady when we were filming the Asiatic Black Bears along with Attenborough. O'Grady made us walk along a fallen log to attract the bears for the camera, HASAW never came into O'Grady's mind, even when I said no, he would go off in a huff and end up doing things his way. Sometimes ego can be the very thing that destroys us all, but I hope we can all learn to have a better life by learning, using experience and enjoying our work so that we can all help each other and our fellow animals.

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