While breeders, and the zoos and entertainers that use them, paint white tigers as an endangered species in need of preservation efforts, that story couldn’t be further from the truth, said Susan Bass, PR representative for the Florida sanctuary Big Cat Rescue (BCR).
“White tigers are not a species, they’re not endangered, they’re not in the wild,” Bass told The Dodo. “There are so many misconceptions about white tigers.”
According to Bass, a white tiger hasn’t been seen in the wild since the 1950s, when a light cub was found with a family of usual orange tigers. The individual who found him was fascinated by the natural colour variation, so he stole the cub away from his mother and siblings.
Today’s white tigers are all descendants of that original white tiger, she said, and are the result of countless generations of inbreeding needed to get the double receding gene that gives tigers a white coat.