A White Tiger Paradise
January 15, 2018
The residents at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge got a special treat this week, the first major snowfall this year. Big cats, like our tigers, absolutely love the snow, it is a new scent, texture, and mental enrichment item that only nature can provide for them. And they are more than prepared to enjoy it. Tigers get an extra thick coat and an extra layer of fat during the winter to keep them nice and warm even during the cool, wet snow season.
Our white and pure white tigers especially seem to enjoy the snow, since this is the only time during the year that they are truly camouflage and can try to sneak up on team members without them noticing (although we do notice them… we just act extra surprised during the snow storms).
White tigers do not often occur in the wild. The last documented wild white tiger was in the 1950’s, and since then all remaining captive white tigers have come from a very small family tree. Officially, all white tigers in American descend from one of two sources. The most well-known line is Mohan, a white tiger captured in the wild in 1951, who was bred with his daughter, Rewa, to produce white cubs. Another American bred white tiger line that may or may not have a relation to Mohani is the Kubla/Susie line which produced Tony and Tony’s cousins Bagheera & Frosty (Susie’s sister’s cub). Kubla’s parents were wild tigers who were brother and sister, and Susie’s parents are not known publicly, so there is no way to know if she is any relation to Mohan.
With only possibly two sources of white tiger blood in the U.S., that means all white tigers are extremely inbred. This inbreeding has lead to many genetic defects such as being cross-eyed, have shortened tendons of the forelegs (Clubfoot), kidney problems, higher rates of cancer, arched or crooked spines, twisted necks, snub/pug nose (like Kenny), cleft pallet, stunted growth, malformed jaws bones, deformed teeth, and many more birth defects. White tigers are extremely unhealthy and should never be bred.
Beyond the white and black color combination, white tigers can also produce ‘pure’ white tigers (white tigers with no or very faint stripes) and strawberry/golden tabby tigers. These color variants come from the white tiger line and are even more recessive than the white coloration.
Although Turpentine Creek is against breeding tigers, especially white tigers, and other big cats in captivity we are home to eleven white tigers, two pure white tigers, and one Golden Tabby tiger, all who were acquired from other facilities through rescues or rehoming efforts. We will not turn an animal away due to their coloration or health issues.
It is only with your help that we can continue to care for the many cats and bears that call our refuge home and fight for the protection of big cats in captivity. Click here to donate now and help us, help them.