CURRENT DAY - SPREAD OF WHITE TIGERS IN ZOOS - TOO MANY TO COUNT
White Tiger Genealogies from Mohan to Modern Day
1500 to 1899 - Historical Accounts of White Tigers
1800s - Current Day Stripeless White Tigers
1900 to 1950s - Historical Accounts of White Tigers
1950s to 1970s - The White Tigers of Rewa & Orissa
1970s - Alleged White Amur Tigers, Susie & White Tigers of Unknown Lineages
White Tigers in Captivity Today
Circus White Tigers: Susie - Matriarch of a White Tiger Line
Circus White Tigers: Takila/Chequila & Tony - Patriarch of a White Tiger Line; Maharanee/Maharani
Circus White Tigers: The Mythical 1975 Litter of Six
The 1984 White Tiger Cubs Theft Case
Current Day - Spread Of White Tigers In Zoos - Too Many To Count
Reintroducing White Tigers Into The Wild?
White Tiger Studbook and Bibliography
SPREAD OF WHITE TIGERS IN ZOOS - TOO MANY TO COUNT
White tigers are found in zoos worldwide - there are now too many to track, so only a few are noted here. A white tiger at White Oak Plantation, in Florida, resembles Rewati in having crossed eyes and a crooked spine; she was born at Metro-Miami zoo, to Cincinnati parents.
In the 1990s, a female white tiger from the Henry Doorly Zoo named Kitra went on loan to Potters Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan.
Bhopal, India planned a white tiger breeding centre. Taipei zoo has 7 white tigers and started with one from Taman safari park in Indonesia. Nashville zoo, which bred white tigers in co-operation with Siegfried and Roy, gave 6 white tigers to the Khoa Kheow Open zoo, in Chonburi province, Thailand, in 2002. Guangzhou Xiangjang safari park claimed to have 60 white tigers, 50 being the offspring of a single female and many of those were sired by her older brother - a dangerous amount of inbreeding and likely to result in genetic problems. This white tiger mill situation is comparable to that of Bhim and Sumita.
Two white tigers from Nandanakanan Zoo went to Surabaya Zoo, Java, Indonesia as a gift. Western Plains Zoo's (Australia) white tiger came from Surabaya Zoo. At various times in the mid-to-late 1990s, Western Plains Zoo had white tigers from the Rewa, Orissa, and Sioux Falls Zoo lineages.
The NZP's last white tiger was Panghur Ban, a son of Ranjit born at Omaha; he was euthanized October 2002, ending an era. His brother Chester was donated by HDZ to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and was the first white tiger in Australia. Chester was sire of an orange tigress named Mary Alice who was the first test tube tiger cub (only survivor of a litter of three), born at HDZ. Chester's heterozygous orange daughter Gold/Rani at Montgomery is exhibited with Akeer's brother Zazu, but has not bred.
White tigers are popular in circuses. Josip Marcan, a Croatian, was a veterinarian at the Frankfurt zoo for 7 years, before moving to America and becoming a tiger trainer. He was a trainer with the Hawthorn Circus when the Hawthorn Circus leased troops of white tigers and trainers out to other circuses. His white tigers are claimed to be of pure Bengal origin from Yugoslavian imports, however, no pure Bengal white tigers are known to have been perpetuatied outside of India. Contrary to claims of having pure Bengal tigers, Marcan's tigers originated from the Hawthorn Circus and are Bengal/Amur mixes descended from Silver. Marcan maintained the illusion of Bengal purity. He breeds black-striped white tigers, stripeless white tigers and golden tigers, but is careful not to over-produce white tigers - yet it seemed to produce a disproportionate number of white and golden tigers compared to normal orange tigers. Marcan now owns the tigers in the Ringling Circus, which include white and golden tigers. His white tigers are descended from "Silver" from the Hawthorn Circus bloodline, though there is an unsubstantiated rumour that one tigress was sent to Nandankanan zoo for impregnation to found his own white tiger line (it seems more likely that she was mated to one of Hawthorn Circus's white tigers).
Josip Marcan, though claiming to be a veterinarian and renowned tiger expert, was not licensed to practice as a vet in Florida ( Tigers of India Josip Marcan). His operations included "Bengal Tiger Encounter", "Tigers of India" and "Adriatic Animal Attractions". Those who have rescued tigers from Marcan since the 1990s described him as a prolific breeder who keeps only a few of the tigers he breeds, at his private "preserve" in Florida. Former employees described the preserve as housing tigers in small cages and using an exercise pen in rotation. In January 2011, the Gulf Coast Zoo, Alabama, had a white tiger cub named Sita that had been born at the Marcan Tiger Preserve on Nov 7, 2010. The zoo were charging $50 for a 30 minute tiger encounter with Sita who was claimed to have been rejected by her inexperienced mother. Her sibling had allegedly died at birth so the Gulf Coast Zoo was asked to raise her until she was old enough to be returned to Marcan Tiger Preserve. In 2004, one of Marcan's tigers, Apollo, caused a five-car pile-up when he escaped from a Cole Bros Circus trailer on Jackie Robinson Parkway, New York City. In 2009, Brooklyn Federal Court found Marcan liable for $935,500 damages to two drivers who were seriously injured in the incident. According to a United States Department of Agriculture investigation report, Marcan was cited in 2000 and 2001 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act after investigations found unsanitary food preparation and storage, inadequate ventilation and water supply, and failure by handlers to make regular checks on the tigers. Marcan blamed this on Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus (who had contracted out the tigers) requiring them to travel by train instead of trailer. Marcan's tigers are not part of the only internationally sanctioned Species Survival Plan.
According to Tigers of India Josip Marcan Marcan's preserve is sited on 80 acres but only a small portion of the land was used. Marcan was said to breed and sell tigers to zoos in the Florida area. The Species Survival Plan won't include Marcan's tigers because they are not pure Bengal tigers for conservation breeding, but are descended from circus tigers. Marcan wanted to work on legislation that would allow him to exchange tigers with pure bloodlines from India. CITES does not allow tigers to be taken from the wild and bred for circus acts or the pet trade and the Marcan Tiger Preserve is not an AZA accredited facility.
According to the promotional blurb, "By the early 1980s he [Marcan] had developed a breeding program that was producing the finest genetically sound Bengal tigers anywhere. Animals from his breeding programs have made their homes in zoos and wildlife parks all over the world" but the publicity omits to tell donors that its tigers are performing tigers and that it supplies tigers to circuses. In 2011 Marcan’s “Preserve” provided a male golden tabby tiger and a "snow white tiger" to a circus act.
"MarineLand And Game Farm" at Niagara Falls, Canada had the first white tigers in Canada, these being a troop of Hawthorn Circus tigers stationed there with their trainer. Silver was with the white tiger act at Marineland and Game Farm in Niagara Falls, Canada in 1981. The "Great White Tiger Show", comprising 16 Hawthorn Circus white tigers, 2 orange tigers, and a trainer (John Cox) travelled to Osaka, Japan where Dalip was exhibited in 1970. The white tigers at MarineWorld/AfricaUSA came from Josip Marcan who sent tiger cubs there for hand-rearing. MarineWorld/AfricaUSA bought a white tiger from him named Samson, who had dark stripes and who fathered a litter of three white cubs in Vallejo (the mother was an orange heterozygous tigress also acquired from Marcan - possibly also descended from Silver?). Samson later went to Henry Doorly Zoo which already had Ranjit, Kesari. Raja, Sheba II and Obie. Those from DreamWorld may have come from Vallejo along with their trainers (Vallejo Tiger Island wanted control of the Gold Coast Tiger Island).
A white tiger called Silver is behind many white tiger lines, but there is no genealogy information available because they were bred by Josip Marcan and were not part of any zoo breeding programme. Silver had a number of disabilities caused by a difficult birth. According to the Sports Illustrated article (July 21, 1986) “Now He's The Cat's Meow” "All of Burck's white tigers are hard of hearing. The one named Bagheera is stone deaf. Three of them are cross-eyed. All of them are neurotic, easily spooked. The one named Silver is mentally retarded. When Silver was born his sac didn't break. When he took his first breath he inhaled his placental fluids. Most baby tigers scream. Silver lay flat barely breathing. He remained comatose for four months. Burck had to use a tube to feed him. Silver is five years old now. He roars all the time and bangs his head against his cage for reasons that he alone understands. He is afraid of everything - the whip, circus music, meat, Burck.”
Because Silver’s disabilities were not genetically transmissible, he could be bred from. Silver was loaned to Josip Marcan and all of Marcan's white tigers are descended from him, despite claims of them coming from a separate line imported from Yugoslavia. Burck had warned Cuneo that Marcan might try to breed Silver, but they didn't know that Marcan had bred white tigers from him until much later. In 1989, MarineWorld/AfricaUSA in Vallejo, California had an adult white tiger descended from Silver; all of their white tigers were descended from Silver. Siegfried & Roy also have tigers descended from Silver. The Henry Doorly Zoo had a white tiger named Samson from MarineWorld, who was a direct descendant of Silver. Jack Hanna used to appear on TV with tiger cubs, including white cubs descended from Silver. The tigers at Australia's Dream World on the Gold Coast are also probably Silver's descendants. There are photos of 3 dark-striped white tiger cubs born at MarineWorld and sired by Samson, a descendant of silver, on a heterozygous orange female (also descended from Silver?) bought from Josip Marcan by Ron Whitfield, a tiger trainer at MarineWorld. Marcan and Whitfield fought over ownership of the three white tiger cubs because Whitfield wanted all of them, but eventually settled for two. MarineWorld had a white tiger cub with pinkish stripes which may have belonged to Marcan.
In June 2005, there was an attempt to smuggle white tigers into Mexico where they were claimed to sell for $50,000 each. This price seems unlikely as so many white tigers are bred by private menageries for the exotic pet market that some end up in exotic animal rescue centres! The cubs were seized by US Customs in Brownsville, Texas and went to Louis Dorfman at the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas which already had 6 dark-striped white tigers. Pampa, born in Argentina's Temaiken Zoo in 2006 arrived at Mexico Zoo in May 2007 where he is to be mated to 2 year old Luna, a tiger from a Mexican zoo. Meanwhile, a white female called Brisa was born at the Zoologico de Vallarta, in the Pacific coast state of Jalisco, Mexico (the zoo owners erroneously refer to white tigers as an endangered species).
Minnesota zoo donated a pair of Bengal tigers to the Taman Safari Park in Cisaru, Bogar, West Java. One was a white female called Shinta and the other was an orange male. In April 2005 Shinta had 4 orange tiger cubs.
Two white tigers were born at Stump Hill Farm, Richville, Massilon, Ohio where owner Cyndi Huntsman erroneously said "Only 50 to 100 white Bengal tigers may be found in the wild because their white stripes make for an easy target." In fact there have been none in the wild for around 50 years. The Farm's white cubs were born to 5 year old white parents Samson and Ashora, ex-circus tigers and therefore probably Bengal/Amur mixes.
It has proven impossible to found lines of purebred white Bengal tigers outside of India. Cincinnati Zoo imported two white female tigers from the Nandankanan Zoo to try and start a line of pure Bengal white tigers, but were unable to get a pure Bengal male. The Columbus Zoo wanted the US Fish And Wildlife Service to help them acquire pure Bengal white tigers from India, and white tiger semen, but were also unsuccessful.
My New Wild Life on Animal Planet (August 2009) featured the neutering of ten tigers at the PAWS tiger sanctuary in Galt, California. The show noted that Majesty (white tiger from John Weinhart's Tiger Rescue in Colton, California) would be first because if there was going to be a problem it would probably be with this white tiger. The show noted also that White tigers are known to have more difficulty metabolizing anaesthetic drugs; excessive inbreeding is necessary to produce white tigers a coloration not normally found in the wild; inbreeding also causes birth defects and other profound medical issues....but the concern was the drug may not work properly on the white cat. Majesty was rescued from a substandard breeding facility. He has eyes trouble, hearing deficiency, and lack of coordination.
The Mobile Zoo, Alabama has a white tiger named Magoo. It’s not known if that zoo ever bred them, or if they are AZA accredited. The AZA policy since 2009 regarding generic tigers, including white tigers: AZA zoos are forbidden to breed white tigers; replace them when they die; acquire new ones; or even get cubs on loan. If they are transferred out of an AZA zoo to a non-AZA facility, they must be spayed or neutered prior to the transfer. The goal is to manage them to extinction within 20 years. They are permitted to live out their lives in AZA zoos, but many AZA facilities have chosen the option of spay/neuter and relocation to a sanctuary. That leaves only non-AZA zoos and private owners as possible homes for them. However, there are numerous attempts to pass laws, both at the state and national level, forbidding anyone else but AZA zoos to have big cats, which would leave white lions and white tigers nowhere to go in the USA. Many have been lost. The white tigers at Cincinnati and Knoxville have died out due to old age. Those at Nashville were sent to Tiger Haven. John Cuneo sent the remaining Hawthorn tigers to the National Tiger Sanctuary. Federal legislation in the works in 2013 would, if passed, make it illegal for anyone to breed white tigers in the United States as only AZA accredited zoos would be allowed to breed big cats. Private owners and circuses would not be allowed to breed big cats. This would put an end to the “sanctuaries” and “preserves” that are effectively tiger mills, churning out cubs (frequently inbred) for private owners and offloading defective, elderly or otherwise unsaleable animals on genuine rescue organisations.
THE DECLINE OF WHITE TIGERS IN ZOOS
The tigers in Montreal with Allen Gold were the remnants of the white tiger act featured on the Beyond show in Canada in 1977, and the ones that were mentioned in the Sports Illustrated article, with the exception of 2 white and 3 orange tigers delivered to the act in 1989 when it was in Germany. The last of the original tigers, Conan, died in 2001. The last of the tigers added in Montreal, Wei, died in 2004.
The last white tiger at the National Zoo was Panghur Ban (known as “Taj”), who was a great grandson of Mohini. He died in 2002 at the age of eighteen.
West Midlands Safari Park has a number of white tigers (regarded by some as "white tiger central" in the UK), but declined to reveal their ancestries following my query in December 2013. Katie McDonald's response to my request for information: "I ran your project passed the head of carnivores. He agreed that it is interesting work and I am impressed by your geneologies. However we know that our white tigers are inbreed. We are not planning to breed white tigers again and therefore we feel that devoting resources to your project is not something that we are able to do at the present time.
Cincinnati’s last white tiger was Popsy who died in June 2018 aged 22. She was euthanized due to age-related issues. The white tiger habitat had been modified with ramps and a shallow section in the pool to allow her easier. Popsy arrived at Cincinnati Zoo from Nashville in June 1996 with her sister Erica. They were named after the late Erich Kunzel, Conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, who was a large supporter of the Cat Ambassador Program. Popsy spent her last ten years with male companion Akere, who died in December 2017 aged almost 22. Akere had non-treatable oral cancer, was in renal failure and was severely arthritic. Akere arrived in Cincinnati from Nashville in November 1996 at 9 months of age. Popsy and Akere were kept together for companionship not breeding. Over 70 white tigers were born at the Cincinnati Zoo, which is where Siegfried and Roy purchased their white tigers.
In June 2019, Bajirao, the last captive white tiger at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai suburb Borivali, died aged of 18. He had chronic ankylosis on the left shoulder and age-related arthritis. Bajirao was born at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in 2001.
Many of the white tigers now found in zoos are rescues from the illegal exotic pet trade and are not bred.
Because white tigers are a natural colour morph of the Bengal tiger and were eradicated in the wild, it would make more sense to include those that are known to have the highest percentage of Bengal genes, and no health defects, to be incorporated into the Bengal tiger conservation programmes and allow white cubs to be born at a natural frequency.
Textual content is licensed under the GFDL.
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.
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