Target: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Goal: Ban the breeding of white tigers that have a genetic color mutation commonly linked to health issues and deformities.
With their black stripes against white fur and crystal blue eyes, few people would doubt the beauty of white tigers. However, what many people do not realize is that white tigers are very rare in the wild, and when they are born they rarely survive long. The genetics that cause their fur to be white rob them of their camouflage, making it very difficult for them to hunt. The genetics that cause them to be white are so rare, humans have resorted to inbreeding to produce higher numbers of captive white cubs. The high level of inbreeding that occurs in order to produce white tiger cubs commonly causes health issues and genetic deformities. Visually appealing white tigers can fetch a high price, but deformed white cubs and the often times less appealing normal looking cubs are often times left to suffer undesirable fates. This is something that should not be tolerated in any species, especially one on the brink of extinction.
The lineages of almost all white Bengal tigers can be traced back to a single male who was found in the wild as a cub in 1951. Because the genes to produce a white tiger are recessive, the only way to produce them is to breed two white tigers together, or to breed normal looking tigers who carry the recessive gene. But most white tigers, and ones who carry the gene to produce white offspring, are related. This high level of inbreeding has caused many genetic deformities and health issues, including scoliosis of the spine, neurological disorders, cleft palates, hip dyspepsia, and bulging eyes. Many white tiger cubs are stillborn, and out of the ones that do survive after birth, many of them are too deformed to be used for display. Even healthy looking white tigers are not always perfect. Many of them, although beautiful looking, will inherit things like poor immune systems and kidney problems.
White tigers cannot be, and are not ever, released into the wild. So what happens to the majority of white cubs who are either too sick or too deformed to be put on display? Many of them are most likely killed. Few lucky ones will find their way to sanctuaries, while others end up in substandard circuses, zoos, or wildlife centers. Normal colored tigers born to white parents, although often healthy, are commonly killed during canned hunts, sold as exotic pets, killed, or used for breeding.
Perhaps an even sadder fact is that, while irresponsible breeders are turning out sickly and deformed white tigers, tigers in the wild are headed towards extinction. Three subspecies of tigers have already gone extinct. White tigers are bred only for profit, not for conservation reasons. Humans are perpetuating unhealthy tiger genetics while healthy tigers die every day. The gene pool of healthy animals gets smaller and smaller, and will continue to do so as long as breeders focus on breeding unhealthy animals while healthy tigers die.
Urge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to ban breeders from producing genetically unhealthy white tigers merely for profit. Healthy tiger populations are facing enough problems already, without the circulation of unhealthy genes. Animals who are born sickly or deformed usually lead horrible lives or are killed. Is seeing a small number of beautiful looking white tigers really worth all the suffering it causes to produce them?
Dear United States Fish and Wildlife Service,
Please consider banning the importation and breeding of white tigers. Although beautiful, the inbreeding used to create these animals causes a host of health problems. Many white tiger cubs are born deformed or with health issues, and many of these animals, deemed unfit for display, are killed or forced to live out their often times short lives behind bars. White tigers cannot be candidates for release. Their white fur, beautiful to humans, robs them of the camouflage they need to successfully hunt for prey.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the white tigers themselves that are suffering. Normal looking tigers produced from white parents are often times killed in canned hunts, sold as pets, or used for breeding. All of this is going on while healthy tigers in the wild disappear at an alarming rate. If humans want to breed tigers in captivity, they should focus on breeding for conservation purposes and not to make a profit. The gene pool of healthy animals is becoming smaller and smaller, and will continue to do so as long as breeders focus on breeding unhealthy animals while healthy tigers die. Seeing a small number of beautiful looking white tigers in captivity is not worth all the suffering it causes to produce them.
[Your Name Here]
* Photo is of Kenny, a resident of Big Cat Rescue