Tigers are one of nature's most beautiful animals. There are fears that tigers may be extinct in the wild by as early as 2022. As it happens there are many captive breeding programs for tigers, but sadly one breeding trend seems to involve breeding “white tigers”.
White tigers are not natural, and this is not the same as being albino. There is a rare recessive gene that causes a tiger to be white. In captivity many people are inbreeding tigers specifically to get this gene to show, and to have more white tigers.
In nature inbreeding is not desired, as it causes an overall weakening of the species.
In 2011 the American Zoological Association (AZA) adopted a ban on breeding white tigers and lions by their members. This is good news for all those who follow their rules, but sadly many people still continue the unethical practice of intentionally inbreeding animals to get white tigers.
There are several problems with intentionally breeding white tigers, one is that all non-white tiger kittens are sometimes discarded or killed at birth by the breeder as they are considered unwanted by-products of a program devoted to trying to get white tiger kittens only.
The recessive white gene is linked to certain deformities in tigers. In house cats, many who are white with blue eyes are also deaf. In tigers the white gene causes eye problems, causing all white tigers to be cross eyed even if their eyes look normal – they are wired to the wrong part of the brain. In fact this trait makes the tigers more easy to train, their poor vision makes them more dependent on their owner.
White tigers also tend to have cleft palates, club feet, spinal deformities, and deformities of their internal organs. It is not uncommon for white kittens to die at the fetal stage or shortly after birth.
Many white tigers are given the name of “Royal White Bengal Tiger” which is not a breed of tiger at all, but rather a marketing ploy, much like the names given to designer dogs. Most (if not all) white tigers are not even pure Bengal Tigers, but are a cross between Bengal Tigers and Siberian Tigers. To get the white genes mothers are bred to their sons, fathers to their daughters, and brothers to sisters.
Carol Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue in the United States, reports getting hundreds of phone calls a year from people wanting to get rid of their unwanted tigers so they can breed more white tigers. She says this has gotten so bad that her rescue refuses to help these people and they will not take white tigers into their rescue.
People are intentional inbreeding white tigers specifically for profit, either to sell the offspring or to draw visitors to their zoo or attraction. The public needs to take a stand and should refuse to attend any zoo, or public show, that has white tigers on display.
Breeding white tigers is not for the benefit of tiger species, as these animals are not purebred. White tigers do not survive in the wild. As such anyone who is breeding them is breeding them for personal, or profitable, reasons, not to save tigers in general.
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