“White gene” vs “Inhibitor gene.”
Although these pages refer to “white genes,” white tigers have the genes for normal orange colours, but those genes are switched off by a recessive “inhibitor gene.” When a tiger inherits 2 copies of the inhibitor gene, the normal orange colour is suppressed. In general parlance, it’s simply easier to refer to “white genes.”



The Studbook Of White Tigers In Indian Zoos was the very first complete and correct studbook ever compiled in India for an animal in the Indian zoos. It was published in Zoo Zen Volume IV, Issue XI. June 1989. Dr. A.K. Roychoudhury, a statistician with a genetics background, became interested in the white tiger in 1975 and had been collecting the birth and death data from all the zoos for all these years as a hobby. The studbook enabled zoos which had white tigers to avoid the deleterious effects of inbreeding by consulting the studbook. Zoos which wanted white tigers could find normal coloured animals that carried the white gene and breed them for white colour. Zoos which didn't want white tigers could use the studbook information to avoid them obtaining carriers.

A.K. Roychoudhury had collected and compiled genealogical records of white tigers from different zoos in India. As their numbers increased and their white genes were spread among captive tigers, it became imperative to collate their records in the form of a studbook. This would keep track of all white tigers throughout their entire lifetime as well as planning future breeding. It contained information of not only white tigers but also of all tigers used for breeding, or with biological connections to white tigers in the past.

All the white tigers in Indian zoos originated from two lineages, one from Rewa and the other from Nandankanan. At the time of the studbook’s compilation, the entire captive population of tigers carrying white genes was descended from 16 individuals of which eleven were wild born and five were of unknown origin. The contributions of those founder animals to the white tiger gene pool in India was disproportionate in nature. The white tigers of Rewa lineage were distributed in Delhi, Calcutta, Patna, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Guwahati and Chhat Bir (Punjab) Zoos, while those of Nandankanan lineage were mainly found in Nandankanan, Mysore, Jaipur and Trivandrum Zoos. The studbook allowed zoos to research and exchange animals from different lineages.

In addition to the tigers listed in the studbook, A.K. Roychoudhury mentioned one white and two normal coloured (possibly heterozygous) cubs were born to a normal coloured tigress, Kummo of “Asian Circus” on August 1, 1987. The ancestry of Kummo and her mate was not available so they were not recorded in the studbook. It’s possible that they have descendants that have produced “unexpected” white tigers elsewhere.

One edition of the Indian studbook said: "In the present edition of the studbook all animals that have the white gene or are of unknown origin have been excluded from analysis and have been placed separately as annexure III and IV." In more recent editions these are included in studbook ID number, but with a comment idicating they are white or are descended from tigers known to have the white gene.


JBNHS: Journal of Bombay Natural History Society.

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Most white tiger websites have a pro- or anti-agenda and variously claim to give “facts,” “truths” or debunk “myths.” There is too much misinformation too many hidden agendas. I stick to facts and deductions based on facts. Some information is documented, some is from personal correspondence with zoos, and some is from the recollections or personal notes of people involved with circus or zoo tigers. Sometimes personal recollection is the only information left to us because the organisations that bred or traded the tigers have closed and their records were destroyed. Even the different editions of tiger studbooks are inconsistent.

Information originating from my pages, which are frequently updated, has been widely copied on those other sites. Some users of my information have later tried to claim I copied their work.