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Panthera tigris - The Tiger
The white tiger is Panthera tigris, as is the normal golden coloured tiger. White tigers are not a separate species at all, but are born when two parents both have the recessive gene which makes them white. They are not albinos.
In this article, I'll be sharing a little about them, and showing you some photos of these magnificent animals, as well as other types of tiger.
Where White Tigers Come From
Tigers are sometimes referred to as 'Bengal Tigers", and this subspecies is found in India. There is also a species of tiger which comes from Siberia, but this species may not have the recessive gene which leads to white tigers. In captivity, White Siberian tigers are usually crossed with Bengal tigers to get the white variety.
In India, tigers are mostly found in Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Assam, although there are many other areas in which they live. Unfortunately, due to poaching, and habitat destruction, tigers are now an endangered species.
White tigers are not a sub-species of Panthera tigris, the golden tiger, but are a natural mutation caused by a recessive gene. When both parents have this gene, there are likely to be white tigers in the litter.
Most of the white animals in captivity are said to be from the offspring of just one tiger.
There are thought to be fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild today.
How we can save this beautiful animal. Tigers didn't ask for their habitat to be destroyed, or to be hunted almost to extinction. We need to act now.
A Few Tiger Facts
The white tiger is, in fact, just that, not an albino. Albinos have pink eyes and no stripes, whereas the whites have blue eyes, and stripes. Some have much darker stripes than others.
These animals are a mutant form of the normal tiger, and as tiger habitat comes under increasing pressure, and numbers decline, then the number of white animals also declines.
Although many are bred by private entrepreneurs and private zoos, a large percentage of these animals are allegedly destroyed. This is because all captive animals are said to be descendants of one particular animal, and inbreeding is causing deformities and other problems. Since white tigers are very popular with visitors, unscrupulous people are breeding them for profit.
This is unethical, and I believe it should be stopped.
Preservation Is Vital
It is a sad fact that some tiger preserves in India actually contain no tigers. Two of the Indian reserves which no longer have any tigers are Sariska, and Panna National Park. Other reserves have dwindling numbers.
This is possibly due to poaching, although the Indian government has created new reserves, and is trying to protect the animals. Many are killed for Chinese medicine, which uses every part of the animal. It would be disastrous if these magnificent creatures disappeared due to the greed of those who trade in them for profit.
There are possible plans to restock preservations, but the animals would still be in danger, as poaching is rampant.
All about tigers in photos and text, for the younger reader
Tiger CubsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cubs can be golden or white.
The litter of white cubs in the image above must have been born to parents who both carried the recessive gene, as they are all white. Sometimes there are mixed litters, containing both white and golden cubs.
The mother and baby are Sumatran tigers, from Indonesia, another endangered sub-species. Sumatran tigers do not have the recessive white gene.
Do you think the tigers should be saved?
Tigers Eyeing Prey
Don't these two tigers look really interested in something out of camera range? Perhaps they are thinking of hunting and eating.
I remember once, while visiting a zoo, a tiger which had been lying quietly suddenly leapt to its feet and came over to the fence, growling. What had drawn its attention? A person in a wheelchair! Animals usually hunt the young or injured, and it recognised that this person was not like the others around the cage.
Information about the tiger's shrinking habitat, with photos and maps. A must read for those interested in conservation of these animals.
The Bengal tiger is one of the largest cats in the world. It can reach weights of over 300 kgs, and almost 3.5 metres in length.
There are only about 2,500 of these beautiful animals left in the wild, so efforts need to be made now to save them. If they disappear, so will the white tigers, which are a variety of the Bengal tiger.
The Tiger - by William Blake
Tigers Love Water
Tigers and Water
The tiger is one of the few cat species that actually likes water. They will play in it quite happily, and will even play in snow.
One reason they like water, particularly in hot weather, is to cool off - it gets pretty hot in a fur coat when you've been hunting. Most places where tigers are found are in tropical climates.
The tiger in the photo looks really relaxed about being wet.
Rescue the tiger, whether white or golden - they're worth it.
A Sumatran Tiger
This sub-species of tiger lives on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and it is classified as critically endangered. There are possibly less than 600 of these animals remaining.
There are several Sumatran tigers in the Melbourne Zoo, where they have been successfully bred on several occasions.
Young Tigers, Melbourne Zoo
These two tigers are young Sumatrans, bred at the Melbourne Zoo. This zoo is part of the world-wide breeding network for Sumatran tigers, and has been quite successful in raising cubs.
Siberian TigersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Siberian Tigers - Panthera tigris altaica
These animals are also known as Amur tigers, and they live in a small area near the Sikhote Alin mountain range in SIberia, with another few living in the Russian Far East. Although conservation efforts have been made, sadly, numbers are declining.
As you can see from the photos, the fur of these tigers is thicker than of those who live in warmer climates. They can weigh up to 310 kilos (675 lbs) and are usually a little longer than their Sumatran and Bengali counterparts.
A small number of tigers has been reported in the Baekdu Mountain area of China, in reserves, but specific details are not known.
As with other tiger sub-species, numbers are declining due to habitat loss, hunting and poaching.