stories, plays, rhymes and other things for children and childlike adults

Friday, April 15, 2016


The white tiger is probably the greatest attraction at zoos all over the world. I’m sure you’ve seen one—a creamy white tiger with coffee coloured stripes, a pink nose and blue eyes.

But in the wild, white tigers are extremely rare. Did you know that only Bengal tigers have a white variation? Which means that all white tigers are Bengal tigers. And it is only when two normal, orange Bengal tigers each have a special gene called a double recessive allele and produce a cub together that a white tiger might be born. As you can guess, this does not happen too often in the wild. So how come there are so many white tigers at so many zoos all over the world?

It is said that in 1951, the Maharaja of Rewa (in Madhya Pradesh) captured a white tiger while he was hunting. He named this tiger Mohun and bred him to his own offspring to get more white tigers. One of Mohun’s grandchildren was gifted to the Washington zoo, which started its own in-breeding programme. Now many zoos all over the world have such breeding programmes because there is such a demand from visitors to see white tigers.

But there is something tremendously unfair and unnatural to breed tigers with special genes to selectively make more white tigers. This kind of inbreeding weakens the species and increases the instances of genetic deficiencies and diseases.

So the next time you go to the zoo and see a white tiger on exhibit, don’t Ooh and Aah over it. Instead, take the time to write a complaint to the Zoo Director about the white tiger inbreeding programme at the zoo. Zoos must be made aware that their main concern should be for the health and well-being of the animals they house, not the numbers of visitors they attract!


IndianPundit said...

Very interesting and insightful post.Will keep in mind this very important fact.


Stuart Nager said...

Too bad zoo's so often are run like a business: numbers first and above all.

A to Z