White Tiger

With the start of a new year, I paid a visit to the Singapore Zoo. Two white tigers were active in the afternoon, and I managed to capture that moment. A beautiful cat she is.

They are neither Snow Tigers nor albinos. The white tiger is known to be a pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger. The distinct color is caused by a lack of the pigment pheomelanin, which gives the Bengal tigers their orange fur.

Genetically, the probability of having a white tiger is 1 out of 10,000 births. However, the popularity for white tigers resulted in forced inbreeding within a small pool of captive tigers (as they have not been seen in the wild for decades). This inbreeding came at the expense of undesirable outcomes like neonatal mortality (death within 28 days of birth) rates exceeding 80%.

On average, only one healthy white tiger cub is born out of 30 cubs. The other 29 cubs are often born deformed (with cleft palates, scoliosis, mental impairments, and crossed eyes), euthanized for having the “wrong color”, or die shortly after birth due to fatal genetic defects.

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