UK media outlet the MailOnline, recently published a news article about three white tigers born in a Chinese zoo and their importance for tiger conservation. White tigers have no real conservation purpose and we wrote to the MailOnline to point that out. That letter is reproduced below.
The white tiger birth at a Chinese zoo recently may be a delight to the zoo’s visitors, but there is nothing important about it in terms of conservation.
White tigers originate from Bengal tigers. The Bengal tiger is easily recognisable, it is orange in colour and has dark stripes. But as a result of a recessive gene trait, the gene which controls coat colour, white Bengal tigers can naturally occur – albeit very rarely. For white tigers to exist in captivity, they are often repeatedly inbred, something which can cause a myriad of physical problems and compromise their welfare.
Due to the mixed ancestry of white tigers, and the fact they are genetically compromised, they serve no practical conservation purpose and cannot be used in captive breeding or reintroduction programs, so breeding them only serves to supply more tigers for the zoo environment. The fact white tigers are considered cute is the only reason they continue to exist, but exploiting them for this reason sends a misleading message to the public and does nothing to help the wild tiger population, which itself could be as low as just 2,500 mature individuals globally.
So, let’s stop sharing ‘cute’ images of white tigers and let’s stop breeding them for purely entertainment value. They serve no real conservation purpose and can do nothing to help raise the numbers of wild tigers, which is what our efforts should be focussed on.
Notes to Editors
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Wild Welfare is a global organisation committed to improving animal welfare for captive wild animals. By uniting the world’s leading zoos, zoo associations and animal welfare organisations, we build trusting partnerships that help provide long-term solutions to critical wild animal welfare issues.
Our vision is to end the suffering of captive wild animals around the world and ensure full and sustainable protection is given to all animals in human care. Find out more at www.wildwelfare.org. Registered charity in England (no.1165941).