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White Tiger History
Myth #1 - White tigers are always the result of inbreeding.
- FALSE: Many facilities produce this color variation by introducing unrelated genetics to known white
gene carriers. This increases the genetic diversity and strengthens the health of their bloodlines. Standard orange
and black Bengal tigers carrying the gene to produce white tigers have been outbred in international breeding programs
for over 30 years. Now white tigers in India have a longer life span than standard tigers and may soon be re-introduced
to the wild. When 2 white tiger males are bred with any 2 unrelated normal color female tigers the offspring are normal
colored. But when those two different litters mature and breed, many of the cubs they produce will be white. This is
called outbreeding. These white tiger cubs are not inbred. No inbreeding is required to produce white tigers.
Myth #2 - White tigers are ALL cross-eyed.
- FALSE: White tigers, on average, tend to have no greater or lesser incidence of vision problems than
standard color tigers. Crossed eyes are very rare in white and black striped tigers.
Myth #3 - White tigers suffer from a wide range of birth defects
- FALSE: Most white tigers are every bit as healthy as their orange counterparts, if not more so.
Myth #4 - White tigers have a much shorter lifespan than standard tigers.
- FALSE: The average lifespan of wild tigers is generally between eight to twelve years. Captive tigers
regularly live into their late teens and early twenties, regardless of their color. Captivity lengthens the lives of
big cats due to the lack of competition for food as well as the ready availability of medical care.
Myth #5 - White tigers are more dependent on their caretakers due to mental abnormalities.
- FALSE: This is blatant pseudo-scientific misinformation. There is no evidence of any sort – either
scientific or otherwise - to support this idea. Variations in tiger behavior are a result of the personality traits
and intellectual abilities of each individual tiger, rather than on their color.
Myth #6 - White tigers originate from a single inbred bloodline.
- FALSE: The Mohan/Mohini bloodline, which began at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. in 1960 is one
example. However, in the fifty years since then, there are now several hundred healthy white tigers that originated
from completely separate bloodlines alive and well in the United States today. That translates into approximately 11
generations since Mohan and Mohini. If all private owners had continued to inbreed their tigers as intensively as was
done in the early history of Mohan and Mohini, this would be impossible.
- Inbreeding decreases survivability by comprising the immune systems and increasing genetic defects. Inbreeding
continued at the levels described in the early history of the Mohan/Mohini bloodline would eventually result in
extinction due to total loss of offspring survivability. White tigers are now every equally as healthy as standard
tigers. They generally tend to exhibit no evidence of birth defects or physical abnormalities of any kind.
Myth #7 - White tigers are a hybrid cross of Siberian and Bengal tigers.
- FALSE: Siberian tigers do not carry the recessive genes that produce white tigers. Bengal tigers
carry the recessive genes capable of producing four different color variations. – Standard, Royal White, Snow White and
Golden Tabby. All of the white tigers found in the wild for the last 400 years have been pure Bengal tigers in India.
Many white tigers living in the U. S. are pure Bengal tigers. Siberian tigers have been crossed into some white tiger
bloodlines in order to expand genetic diversity and to produce increased size and strength.
Myth #8 - White tigers cannot survive in the wild.
- FALSE: White tigers have been documented in Indian literature dating back to the 15th century. Prized
for their unique beauty they were often taken into captivity for breeding in royal menageries.
Myth #9 - Thirty to sixty cats must be destroyed to produce one profitable white tiger.
- FALSE: There is not one shred of evidence to support this claim. In order for these kinds of numbers to
work out, there would have to be a breeding group of no less than 300 adult tigers to produce 5 cubs annually. No such
large group of tigers exists in the U. S. or any other country.
- The idea of tiger cub ‘puppie mills’ becomes completely absurd when several unavoidable facts of tiger reproduction are
considered. Female tigers are reproductively mature between three to five years of age. They will have no more than
three litters every two years. They will be of cub bearing age for no more than eight years during which time they will
have between one to five cubs per litter, usually having less in the first few litters as well as the last few litters,
so this single animal will only produce twenty five to thirty surviving cubs in her lifetime giving a 20% natural
mortality rate. So if this tiger were only going to be able to have a one out of sixty chance of having a healthy white
cub the fictitious tiger mill would need hundreds of young males and females being to raised to sexual maturity. There
would be hundreds of post sexual maturity males and females who can live a decade past that point. This means that in
order to produce hundreds of white tiger cubs annually, an unbelievably enormous number of adult tigers would be
required. The expense of maintaining hundreds of tigers at a facility providing the proper nutrition for reproduction
would be tremendous. If the average tiger eats ten pounds of meat daily, and there are five hundred tigers at this
facility, then five thousand pounds of meat per day is required. The cost is 1.8 million $ dolllars annually, if the
meat costs only one dollar per pound. That is an amount far in excess of what this fictitious tiger mill could earn.
Myth # 10 - White tigers serve no conservation purpose.
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- FALSE: White tigers catch people’s interest with their enormous size and beauty. They are the calling
card for the endangered species of the world. White tigers, as animal ambassadors, have raised hundreds of thousands of
dollars used to directly support international grass roots conservation of endangered species.