REINTRODUCING WHITE TIGERS INTO THE WILD?

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

REINTRODUCING WHITE TIGERS INTO THE WILD?

Although the mutation occurred in wild Bengal tigers, it has been selectively bred in captivity. White tigers are a man-made breed of tiger in the same way that Persian cats are a man-made breed of domestic cat. They have no place in the wild. New except, perhaps, to diversify the gene pool of the normal orange tiger. According to The Times Of India article "Will They Survive The Century?" there was a moratorium on breeding white tigers in India after cubs were born with deformities at New Delhi Zoo. As a consequence the Cincinnati Zoo was the only zoo breeding white tigers at that time. K Ullas Karanth, writing in "The Way Of The Tiger", said that white tigers are of little value to conservation. Changed views on their usefulness to conservation, and on their genetic problems, led to Delhi Zoo's plan to reintroduce white tigers to the wild being shelved.

NZP wanted to wean the public away from white tiger mania. For years it had been a major source of white tigers, but came to consider the white genes as pollution in the tiger gene pool. Cincinnati Zoo was, for a long while, a source of white tigers, but today its only remaining white tigers are on permanent loan from Siegfried and Roy, as are those at HDZ today.

The AZA (American Zoo & Aquarium Association) Felid TAG (Taxon Advisory Group) recommended phasing out the Bengal tigers in US collections. Species Survival Plans (SSPs) were developed for 3 of the 5 tiger sub-species only. This meant abandoning the work of Henry Doorly Zoo to improve the genetics of the white tiger bloodline. Ed Maruska had advocated a white tiger SSP, but was unable to get approval. Some of the white and heterozygous orange tigers were traded to private zoos such as Jim Fouts' Tanganyika and to dealers such as the Hunts' International Animal Exchange, the latter becoming founders of the private sector white tiger gene pools.

In June 2010 it was reported that white tigers were to be reintroduced to Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa forests. At recent meeting of India's Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh gave a go-ahead to the state government’s proposal to start a rescue centre and captive breeding of highly-endangered white tigers at Maand reserve near Govindgarh Fort where Mohan was kept in 1951. The plan would require the permission of the Supreme Court and would be in collaboration with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which oversees conservation and management of tigers in the wild.

To attract visitors, Indian zoos continued to breed white tigers despite conservationists’’ claims that the animals had genetic flaws and died young due to inbreeding (Dr MK Ranjit Singh, chairman of the Wildlife trust of India). During the 12 months up to June 2013, nine white tigers died. Unexplained deaths attributed to their genetic susceptibility were reported from Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. That year, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) counted about 100 white tigers in Indian zoos. Andhra Pradesh had the maximum with 17, followed by Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. According to tiger expert YV Jhala, all captive white tigers were descended from one animal, but he overlooked the fact that many unrelated orange tigers have been used in the breeding programme. To ensure the birth of white tigers, zoos were not crossing them to normal coloured tigers, but were inbreeding them to ensure 100% of offspring were white.

After the unexplained death of a six-year-old pregnant white tigress at the end of her pregnancy period in Hyderabad's Nehru zoo, zoo officials compiled figures of tiger deaths to learn that, since 1995, deaths of young white tigers (7 were aged 8 or under, 9 were over the age of 8) far exceeded the deaths of normal tigers at the zoo (to be meaningful, this needs to be expressed in terms of how many of each type of tiger were present). The same tigress had aborted her cubs in 2012, so there must have been something reproductively wrong e.g. uterine inertia

In 2013, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has refused approval to reintroduce white tigers in Madhya Pradesh saying they have no “conservation value.” The Wildlife Institute of India had already emphasised that the reintroduction of white tiger into natural habitat was not desirable as the white tiger was only an aberration of the Royal Bengal Tiger and hence had no conservation value. The state government had been making several efforts to get a pair of white tigers for Sanjay Tiger Reserve in Sidhi district. Chief Minister, Mr Shivraj Singh Chouhan had also written to his Odisha counterpart Mr Naveen Patnaik, unsuccessfully seeking a pair of white tigers from Nandankanan zoo for the state’s proposed zoo/rescue centre at Mukundpur, near Govindgarh. There were no white tigers in wild or natural habitat in Madhya Pradesh, and as few as three in captivity.

USEFUL GENETIC TERMS

INBREEDING DEPRESSION & OTHER GENETIC ANOMALIES IN TIGERS

COLOUR MORPHS & POSSIBLE GENE COMBINATIONS IN WHITE TIGERS

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FOOTNOTE

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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