White Tiger Breeding is Not Conservation

Tigers

The Tiger is under severe threat through loss of habitat and poaching to supply an illicit trade in animal parts.

We are lucky in that there are six Tiger sub-species still surviving. These are the Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris , the Amur Tiger Panthera tigris altaica , the South China Tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis , the Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti , the Sumatran Tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae and the Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni .

Sadly, very sadly, in my lifetime we have lost the Javan Tiger Panthera tigris sondaica , the Bali Tiger Panthera tigris balica and the Caspian Tiger Panthera tigris virgata .

None of these Tigers is a WHITE species. There is NO species or sub-species of white tiger!

Today people. through zoo education and TV documentaries are much more of aware of the threats that Tigers are facing and more is being done to protect them in the wild. The South China Tiger is just hanging on in the wild and with luck may well be saved.

Zoos today offer the tigers best hope with excellent scientifically managed breeding programmes. These will ensure that we have captive animals for many years to come.

White Tiger Profile

Photo by:  http://www.flickr.com/people/tambako/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/people/tambako/

The White Tiger

White Tigers are NOT rare! White Tigers are NOT endangered! White Tigers are NOT a species! They are not even a sub-species! White Tigers have no conservation value.

The White Tiger is a mutant, a freak of nature, an aberration of the Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris . The Tigers are not albinos but are leucistic. They do occur in the wild, but only rarely. There are a number of records of animals being hunted and shot over the past one hundred years or so. Left to their own in the wild they could possibly survive but they would be disadvantaged by their colour. Their prey would see them coming!

There are no White Tigers in the wild today. The captive White Tiger population has been deliberately 'manufactured' by man. There is a huge population consisting of hundreds of unmanaged White Tigers in Texas and China alone.

White Tiger

Photo by:  http://www.flickr.com/people/alaner79/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/people/alaner79/

Conservation

Keeping animals in captivity today revolves around Breeding Programmes and Conservation. It is a long term project involving co-operation between reputable 'good' zoos, the world over. The aim is to have strong, genetically viable populations for release into the wild at some point in the future.

This can NEVER happen with White Tigers. White Tigers ancestry has been now so messed about with that they can almost be considered a 'domestic' breed. White Tigers are now sub specific hybrids and carry a host of genetic defects. They cannot be released to the wild.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service says:

Generic or crossed tigers cannot be used for enhancement of propagation of the species, however they can be used in a manner that should enhance survival of the species in the wild. Examples include exhibition in a manner designed to educate the public about the ecological role and conservation needs of the species and satisfaction of demand for tigers so that wild specimens or captive purebred subspecies are not used .”

The IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions states:

It is desirable that source animals come from wild populations. If there is a choice of wild populations to supply founder stock for translocation, the source population should ideally be closely related genetically to the original native stock and show similar ecological characteristics (morphology, physiology, behaviour, habitat preference) to the original sub-population .”

If captive or artificially propagated stock is to be used, it must be from a population which has been soundly managed both demographically and genetically, according to the principles of contemporary conservation biology .”

and the World Zoo Conservation strategy says:

Demographic stability is needed to ensure that an adequate number of animals of breeding age are available to reproduce at the rates needed to increase or maintain the population at its desired size. Healthy populations are needed to ensure that animals are capable of breeding when needed. Genetic diversity is required for populations to remain healthy and adapt to changing environments (i.e. experience natural selection). Ex situ breeding programmes need to preserve this diversity, otherwise the long-term fitness of these populations will be compromised .”

A primary goal of cooperative ex situ breeding programmes for threatened and endangered species is to support in situ conservation. This may be through rescue of species imminently threatened with extinction in the wild, through research, education, or promotion efforts that support in situ populations, or simply as genetic and demographic reservoirs serving as backups for endangered wild populations .”

No responsible zoo, no zoo that is concerned about conservation should be breeding White Tigers. The space taken up by White Tigers in captivity could be utilised for keeping and breeding other Tiger sub-species which are in desperate need.

Breeding White Tigers is NOT clever. It is irresponsible, it is harmful to other tiger species.

Photo source unknown
Photo source unknown

Take a look at the photograph above. Two baby chimpanzees. One normally coloured and the other not. In spite of the huge difference between the two that abnormal chimpanzee is more normal than every single white tiger in captivity. Yes! EVERY captive white tiger. Every last one of them.

Why? Because this little chimp is a naturally occurring freak (and freak is the word to use...look it up in a dictionary). It has been born in the wild without the interference of man.

ALL captive white tigers, yes all, every last one of them are as a result of man. Man has deliberately crossed brother with sister and daughter with son to produce more and more white tigers. Past, previously wild born white tigers have all been Bengal Tigers. This is not good enough for the Frankenstein zoo breeders and so they have crossed the white tigers still further with another sub species...the Amur tiger and so give a bit of size.

Because of this inbreeding many of the captive white tigers are born with genetic faults which means the cubs are put down shortly after birth. Some of course are born normal coloured (but still inbred and so of no conservation value) and these are put down too (not because they have no conservation value but because they are the wrong colour...that is not white!).

This is so very very wrong. What these irresponsible breeders have done is create a breed. The captive white tiger that is now far removed from its original. It could be compared to a dalmation as to a wolf. No matter how you look at it this is not clever and it is not conservation. Some collections argue that they keep and breed white tigers to raise money for conservation of tigers in the wild. I am sure that some may actually do so but they are lining their own pockets first. That is their main consideration.

Look back to the photograph of the chimpanzee. I don't know where this little animal is located or if it is even still living. Rest assured however that if some irresponsible zoo were to get hold of it they would be doing their best to breed from it in the name of conservation. Conservation it is not! 

Watch Video and learn more

Looking

Photo by:  http://www.flickr.com/people/alaner79/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/people/alaner79/

Another Reason Not To Breed White Tigers

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Comments 56 comments

Caitlin 7 years ago

1st of all white tigers are rare 2nd of all they are endangered and 3rd of all they are a species!!!! i should know because i did a book report on them when i was 9 and i remember taking out about 15 books about both tigers and white BENGALED tigers... So u have no right to say they aren't endangered,rare, and species!!!!! D=<


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you for your comments Caitlin but you are wrong. I appreciate that you may like white tigers...I do too. They are (when they are not suffering from the multiple problems caused by pointless inbreeding) quite beautiful. I stand by my words though. They are NOT rare, NOT endangered and NOT a species. I will grant you that all white tigers are Bengal Tigers but that does the white ones a species in their own right as the uninformed claim.

As someone who has worked with Tigers for 40 years I have more right than many to state the truth.


Rhian 7 years ago

I would like to say thank you to you Peter. So many articles and information has be passed around saying how rare these species are (not helped by TV programmes!) I am studying a degree in animal behaviour and my whole class understands that these are not an endangered species! and its nice to read something that follows our same thoughts. Even recently in a well known newspaper it was written how white and tabby tigers are so endangered. Its like calling a red pointer dog a whole different species to the black!

I feel the same regarding white lions, which again are an "endangered species"

Thank you again for writing this and I hope that it will help to educate many people about this. And specially about the plight of the true tiger


Alondra 7 years ago

uhmmm .........................cool


werq 7 years ago

This site is a leftis wacko baffoon site. All tigers are endangered including the white tiger. It IS a subspecies.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Hello werq - try reading the truth rather than propaganda. Point me towards the information which formulated your sad and incorrect (and impolite) opinion.


Bandy 7 years ago

Thank you, Peter, finally someone posts the truth online. One of my biggest pet peeves are the uneducated people who want to argue that they are in fact rare. I tell people this all of the time while working with tigers in the zoo/sanctuary field. White tigers are taking up valuable habitat space in AZA (and worldwide) zoos and should not be exhibited as "endangered." Thank you Sigfried and Roy. The same with the white lions, tabby tigers and snow tigers. So sad...

I have "shared" on Facebook and enjoy your travel/zoo stories on Zoonewsdigest.

Keep up the good work.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Bandy - Thanks. We really need to get 'zoos' to appreciate the facts...then we can educate the public.


Rachel 7 years ago

Peter is absolutely correct. White tigers are a man made creation. They are not an actual true species becaues they do not occur naturally in the wild. They are the product of severe inbreeding between father and daughter or grandfather and granddaughter tigers in order to produce a double recessive white-gene. Most white tigers are born with physical and/or mental problems. The abuse needs to stop. I refuse to visit zoos have white tigers. It is morally and ethically wrong for such an inhumane thing to take place all for more revenue. I'm actually presenting a speech in class today about white tigers in order to raise awareness and to try and persuade my fellow classmates to not visit zoos that contain white tigers. Hopefully this helps, even if it's just a tiny bit.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Rachel. Good luck with your class speech. Give your audience the link to this hub page. It may help.


Erika12 7 years ago

Yes I wish more people would understand this about white tigers. I just got a job at our local zoo and I am proud to say we are against the breeding of white tigers. I am in school currently doing a zoo science/biology degree and hope to one day spread the word about true conservation. I wish I knew how to get the work out now regarding white tigers though...


Anonymous 7 years ago

Rachel, White tigers aren't really a man made creation because they didn't start from genetic engineering. they started way before the inbreeding of trying to make more of them. This is the part where you're wrong. Also, I wouldn't say they don't occur naturally in the wild, I'd rather say they occur RARELY in the wild. Because in the wild it's more like a chance of 2 ORANGE bengal tigers not related having the recessive gene, that's why I would say rarely. The gene is said to be calculated to occur once in every 10,000 births, and like all animals there's a chance of having a gene mutation or missing a gene. Like white alligators occur because they don't have the gene for melanin to cause pigmentation. Yes, the white tiger is not rare, not a specie (because they're just bengal tigers with a pigmentation problem), and not endangered. It's just mainly a color variation produced by the recessive gene and also gives the tiger pink noses/paws, and blue eyes.


Cindy Letchworth profile image

Cindy Letchworth 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

This is very interesting. I appreciate you explaining that the White Tiger is not a subspecies but a genetic "mishap". You've made the world more informed today. Thanks. I enjoyed reading this.


Jen Wa profile image

Jen Wa 7 years ago

Interesting. Though I know a fair bit about biology, I admit to be rather uninformed about tigers. I wish all or any of you would note some reputable sources for those of us who would like more information about this topic.


Amy 7 years ago

I read Ben Mee's book called We Bought A Zoo. He says that all tigers are really endangerred and he said that tigers have special sensers in their teeth to help them catch their prey. He knows how special tigers are which is why he owns a zoo and you dont


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Amy - I have not a clue what a 'senser' is. White Tigers are not endangered (did you read this hub?). Mr Mee owns a zoo because he had money to buy one. He had to hire staff who knew about animals to work for him because he knew nothing. He had a steep learning curve and probably knows quite a bit now. You are really clever to read a book. Please now read more.


Leigh Wigg 7 years ago

Regarding Ben Mee.

Ben Bought a zoo knowing nothing about animals with his family, if you read the book then you will know this, I am a keeper in the UK and know personally some of the keepers at Bens zoo, Dartmoor wildlife park, people should really know what they are talking about before ranting !

Peter, never a truer word said, I agree whole hartedly, I am also a big cat keeper and i also worry about the places that breed Ligers and Tigons !


Zara 7 years ago

natrual selection has thrown out some stunning creatures! why can't we just concentrate on maintaining natures biodiversity rather than creating new ones for show or ego?


jenny 7 years ago

They are beautiful though! I wonder if I could rent one for my wedding?...that would keep the guest list down!


Sarah 6 years ago

Hello Peter,

This is a brilliant article. There are so many zoo-based TV programmes on at the moment and all of them seem to perpetuate the belief that white tigers are a separate species. Certainly they are beautiful animals but there is absolutely no point in breeding them for conservation purposes - it is a shame the readers of your article on Craig Busch couldn't be bothered to read it properly and see that this was one of the points you were trying to make!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Sarah - I doubt that many, if any, of those who commented negatively on the Craig article actually read it or this or anything. They are hypnotised by the guy and are unable to differentiate between the man on TV and the man in real life.


Sarah 6 years ago

Agreed - a friend of mine recently commented that she enjoyed watching lion man. I told her about your article and she was completely shocked - just shows what a convincing facade he has built.


Azzeee 6 years ago

Hey,

I totally agree with you Peter. White tigers are only a genetic fluke. I am writing a speech on it and I used some information for the Big Cat's Rescue program with backs up the idea completely. White tigers are beautiful but they are not natural; its almost like the red apple in Snow White.

Thanks a lot for providing your point of view because there's not many websites or books that state the real thing. Zoo's really want public attention and a white tiger will definitly do that but it is unethically wrong and they really are not natural by the laws of natural selection.


Noelle Larson 6 years ago

I agree completely with you Peter. It angers me immensely what zoos are doing by containing this breed. recently a litter of White Bengal Tigers was born, and the newspaper made it sound like such a wonderful thing. I wish that they would at least tell the other side of the story, that this occurs due to inbreeding.


Jim 6 years ago

I am not sure what to say. I was happy to read the article in the URL I posted here. However, when I read your hub article and began to think about things and put the whole idea into perspective, I am leaving a bit disappointed.

I do find it sad that so many journalists have lost their way in reporting facts. Ok, yes, its a fact that 5 cubs were born. Yes, its a fact that its cool to people. But a little more research and I would guess that the Editor MAY have thought twice but then STILL POSTED the article for all to see and read (or in this case, hear on the radio).

The worst part of the above about the Editor is that in most cases, if not all, the Editors are there to make money for their company regardless. And people wonder why small tabloids continue to perpetuate bad and irroneous stories like an alien who had a baby in Kansas (I just made that up...but I bet an Editor would take that story and run with it if they could make a few bucks)!

Thank you for educating me on this issue and allowing me gain the knowledge and understanding that although quite beautiful, it is not the correct thing to do!


Jim 6 years ago

I copied in a URL that I mentioned in my post. The URL did not show up in the post and therefore I am posting it here for knowledge and understanding.

http://www.theworld.org/2010/01/08/white-tigers/


marcel285 profile image

marcel285 6 years ago from New Zealand

Very interesting Peter. I was totally unawares that the white tiger was not a species.

The irony, beauty can behold such ugly secrets!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks marcel285- It is a surprise to many because the press, in their ignorance, compound the lie. I strive to educate on this point for the sake of tigers everywhere. Thanks for commenting.


beast 6 years ago

very interesting peter i was tottaly unaware that white tiger was not a species


beast 6 years ago

wow i learned a lot. thank you peter, i will be looking at this site for a wile


Theodore 6 years ago

Peter, you always put me in two minds with your attitude towards white tigers... On the one hand it's my opinion that as a colour morph of Panthera tigris tigris, it certainly deserves to be continued, as (small)part of the captive population of that subspecies, on the other hand I do agree fully with you about the mass bred generic white.

Nevertheless, looking at cartoons and toys it is clear that the white tiger is hugely popular, thankfully playmobil restricted the white tiger to a circus set (no zoo, no wildlife sets), but Zoo Tycoon really contributed to the myth by presenting it as an endangered species, I could go on, but it is clear from cultural expressions that the white tiger is a very popular animal, just like the giant panda, but a lot easier to get for zoos, especially when talking about the generics, which results in zoos having some fine Siberians also exhibiting some generic whites. Sure those animals serve no conservation purpose at all, but isn't the same true for many other animals in zoos?

There might be some point to considering (generic) white tigers as equivalent to domesticcamels, no conservation breeding but generating money to allow the zoo to be active in other conservation fields.

That said keeping white tigers is one thing , producing generic (white tigers) another thing, which cannot be seen as fitting. But I agree, it hurts to see a great, well constructed enclosure in a zoo "wasted" to generic (white) tigers when there are places for "genuine" tigers (and other big cats), certainly when the zoo in the next town is also keeping whites...


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Theodore - Thank you for your comments. As usual you have an interesting way of looking at these animals.

I have no problem whatsoever with a naturally born white tiger in the wild. If such an animal was by necessity brought into captivity I would have no problem with it being integrated into a Bengal breeding programme.

Where I get annoyed is where these animals are constantly promoted by the press as 'Rare Endangered Species'. This is why it is popular. People believe bthe lie when they are told often enough.

Then there is the deliberate breeding of these animals. The numbers of white tigers in captivity now is quite worrying. They are the colour of choice for many.

I share your views on the other points and admit frustration at the whole mess. There are too many captive tigers. There are too many subspecific hybrids. We need space, we need regulation, national legislation, understanding, conservation cooperation and not just for tigers.


Theodore 6 years ago

Thanks Peter, the absurdity of the claim that white tigers are a separate species, let alone a rare and endangered one, is bad enough, I agree, but I rather doubt that that is all of the true reason for its popularity. Black horses, as well as grays, have something of that perceived extra mystique too, more than bays and chestnuts. I do fully agree with you about the number of white tigers but I had no time left to add my thoughts about that to the post, there was work to be done and planned.


jmac80 6 years ago

Peter, Tiger conservation is not that simple. White tigers do have an important role to play. They can and do generate substantial funds for in situ conservation. The future of wild tiger conservation is not going to rest at the world's zoos.

The programs are simply a back up to always have tigers in some form around. They will not be re-populating the wild with captive animals, not going to happen for numerous reasons.

Of course they are not a separate sub-species and places that give this information do a disservice to the public.

There are places that have horrible records with breeding of white tigers in irresponsible manners. There are places though that do substantially contribute to conservation and give good and accurate information to the public.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jmac80 - Actually I do have more than an inkling of the complexities of tiger conservation, the intricacies of breeding programmes and introduction schemes. I am familiar with the world zoo conservation strategy and after 40 years of working in zoos understand more than many. I know that captive breeding programmes are looking a hundred years into the future when reintroduction may be possible for some species. I admit pessimism but, that said, it would never be with zoo bred white tigers!

This article in the main deals with the often promoted lie that white tigers are a rare endangered species. This message needs to be changed.

I have no problem with a wild born white tiger appearing in the wild. I have a major problem with the inbred genetic muddles being held in captivity. There are probably between an eighth and a quarter as many white tigers in captivity as there are normal tigers in the whole of the wild and not a single one of these white tigers is of use to any genuine tiger breeding conservation programme anywhere...not one.

As we said before we will have to agree to disagree. I don't deny that white tigers look attractive but this is not what good zoos should be about. As you can imagine I am even more against white tigers in tiger encounters than I am normal coloured ones.


jmac80 6 years ago

It just seems that you do not see the value to in situ conservation or that it is at all important. Unless NGO's receive necessary funding they cannot do the work that is the only "real" chance for long term wild tiger survival.

I hate to be pessimistic as well. The chance for any real numbers of captive born tigers ever released successfully in the wild is almost nil.

White tigers are a part of raising funds. I have been involved in zoos for over thirty years and have substantial knowledge about actually working with cats as well as what visitors to facilities want to see and experience.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

I do see the value of both ex situ and in situ conservation but I also feel strongly that with zoos that the ex situ should not be done with purposely bred freaks, a view shared by so many in the zoo world. I too have a lot of experience working with big cats and was a zoo curator back in 1971 and a cat keeper for some years before that. I do know what I am talking about. I also know that I am opinionated and that there are many who will not agree with me. Equally though there are a lot who do. My luck is that I work for myself and I can speak out against those aspects of zoos which I percieve (and in my heart) know to be wrong. Others within zoos cannot readily criticise lest they be seen to upset the applecart.

Visitors can experience, can learn, can appreciate without touching or posing with natures oddities. Many zoos now shun that route and do equally as well assisting and funding in situ conservation.

Which gets us right back to the agreeing to not agree.


jmac80 6 years ago

Obviously we do disagree on this one. From first hand knowledge I do see the benefits and what white tigers can bring to funding of projects.

Zoo visitors learn in several ways and let us not disregard "posing or touching" without knowing what motivates people to give a damn about wildlife.

As best I know that two best zoological funders of tiger conservation are both places that handle tigers and have in place programs that allow guests to touch or have photos in an organized and safe fashion. One of them has white tigers and has donated over 1.3 million dollars, over the past ten years, to in situ conservation. Much of this revenue was generated off of the backs of the white tigers there. Is this conservation value?

Yes, we will agree to disagree but that is what makes the world go round.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

Three comments have just been deleted because, sadly, the writers felt inclined to comment without reading the hub.


CJ 6 years ago

White tigers are rare but not compared to other types of tigers. They are not a sub-species on their own, they are a 'version' of the bengal orange tiger, their paler fur caused by a double recessive allele - simply a mutation, not a species on their own, they are all at least some part bengal tiger.

there are fewer of them than orange tigers but this is because the recessive allele only occurs in 1 in every 10,000 births so even with conservation their births are still extremely rare.

tigers in general are crazy rare and their numbers have declined staggeringly.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

CJ there are around 6000 Tigers in China, 5000 in Texas before even considering the rest of the world. Many of these are white...the result of brother mating with sister and mother with son. Many have a little bit of Siberian blood mixed in for a bit of size. White tigers harbour numerous genetic defects and are useless for conservation.


jmac80 6 years ago

Peter you still do not seem to recognise the contribution that white tigers make to in situ work. Not all white tigers are genetically defective. There are places that have bred responsibly. Do not tar every place with the sake brush. Also do not overestimate the value of captive breeding programs to the long term survival of tigers.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jmac80 - nothing you have said has convinced me otherwise so it is unlikely that I will change my mind. As I said previously I don't dispute that White Tigers can raise money but it does not get away from the fact that they are unnatural deliberately produced money making mutants. I am wholly against white tigers in the modern zoo and any handling sessions because they send out the wrong message. Other zoos manage quite nicely without.

I have yet to see a white tiger studbook. Is there one online somewhere?

Again as I said before I am a bit of a pessimist with regards to the future of our planet but the instigation of well managed breeding programmes in conjunction with in situ conservation is going to do a lot more than touch and feel with white tigers.

I note that you are located in Australia. Could it be you have a commercial interest in White Tiger Shows?


jmac80 6 years ago

Commercial interest, no? You stated that they are unnatural. We both know that this is not the case. You have still not convinced me that there will ultimately be any advantage to wild tiger populations from ex situ programs.

The "touch and feel" programs that you condemn has raised and donated over 1.3 million dollars to date. There are programs in Sumatra, Russia, and India that have benefitted from these programs. In fact they would have had great difficulty operating without the financial support. You might check with Flora and Fauna, The Phoenix fund, and Australian Orangutan Project if they have problems with these programs.

What is the wrong message sent out by handling programs? I know that both Dreamworld and Australia Zoo do not encourage ownership of tigers. They are professional organizations that dedicate funds to both program animals and in situ. What can be the problem? Maybe just your perspective.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

jmac80 - I believe I have the right perspective. Nothing I have seen or read convinces me otherwise. I have answered all the points you keep bringing up above so it is pointless going over them again. We just don't agree. End of story.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Great Hub


dakiniTigers profile image

dakiniTigers 6 years ago

Hi Peter. Really impressed by your blog, and thanks for joining Dakini's facebook page. There's a short video on white tigers here that I thought you might find interesting/ useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1da-L2AdCTY&feature...

... although I'm sure you know more than enough about it already!


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia Author

dakiniTigers - Thank you for your comments. The video really does make the point. Thank you.


ttrash profile image

ttrash 5 years ago from Australia

This is a great hub! I read the title and was drawn in - I admit to being naïve about the facts regarding the rarity of white tigers. A well put together and overall informative hub. Thanks for the enlightenment, it was much appreciated.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you ttrash - please pass the message along. The press have done and continue to do a lot of harm by perpetuating the myth.


Pat Massard 5 years ago

Thanks for writing this, Peter. Dr. Ron Tilson, who was Species Coordinator for the AZA's Siberian Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP), wrote an excellent, succinct article on white tigers in the journal Zoo Biology (11 :71-73,1992). In it he wrote, "White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by a

few zoos, private breeders, and circus folks, who do this for economic rather than conservation reasons." If you read the entire article he talks more about the genetics (and economics) of white tigers. I believe Dr. Tilson retired earlier this year, but he's still affiliated with the Minnesota Zoo, where he worked for many years.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Pat, yes I am familiar with Ron Tilson and his excellent work.


Jennifer Neigeant profile image

Jennifer Neigeant 5 years ago

Jmac, white tigers possess very little conservation value. Although I am only 27, i have studied in this field since I was a child. This little situation that mankind has got going on surpasses the line of cruelty. Humans had no right to go on in and alter the species but they did anyway. The only chance conservation stands is if people continue on trying to save the true species of tigers.


jmac2 5 years ago

Humans did not create white tigers. They existed in the wild. I do agree that there are many facilities that have inbred white tigers over the past 50 years. However the other tiger programs have had similar problems and are showing instances of in breeding issues.

White tigers have been a huge win for in-situ conservation and have supported financially many programs. It would be foolish to dismiss their efforts.


Kevin Schmelzlen profile image

Kevin Schmelzlen 4 years ago from Julian, CA

Peter, great article, thank you! I knew that white tigers were not an actual species, but I did not know even close to the whole story. I feel that if people want to see white tigers, then they should support real tiger conservation so there will be enough tigers in the world to ensure that there will be at least a few naturally-created (via random mutation) white tigers in the wild. Breeding them just because "they're cute" or because some of the money supports in situ conservation is not a good enough reason; all tigers are cute and housing naturally-occurring tigers would also support in situ conservation, without the likely genetic side-effects. Humans should learn to just leave wild things as they are instead of trying to change them to fit our human desires. I work at a (legitimate) wolf education, conservation, and research facility and it annoys the heck out of me every time someone tells me about their "pet" wolf or wolf-dog hybrid.


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Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Kevin...you are so right, random mutation is fine. I have no problem with white tigers but I do with purposeful production for commercial exploitation.

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