All the white tigers in all the zoos have the same great, great, great grandfather. His name is Mohan. As a young white tiger cub, Mohan was caught in Madhya Pradesh, India in 1951 by a king whose name was Shri Martand Singh of Rewa. The place where he was found is now a special place where tigers live.
Mohan had brothers and sisters who were also white but they were shot by the king. The king asked his friend, another king, Ajit Singh, if he wanted to shoot Mohan and he refused. And so Mohan survived and became the father of all white tigers. In the English language “Mohan” means “Enchanter”. Mohan must have been a beautiful, eye-catching white tiger cub. Mohan lived a long life of 20 years. But he was no longer a wild tiger.
The great, great, great grandmother of all the white tigers in the world is Mohan’s daughter whose name was Radha. It is strange to think that the grandparents can be a father and daughter. But it was the only way to give birth to new baby tigers that were white.
People believe that there are about 200 white tigers in the world. They are all behind bars in zoos. The last white tiger that lived free, in wild places, was shot in 1958 by a person who liked to shot tigers. It is just possible that a white tiger will be born in the wild, in India, but it probably won’t happen because they are very rare.
White tigers are the same as orange tigers except for one thing, the color of their coat. For this reason people who know a lot about cats have decided that white tigers are not a different species (type) of tiger.
The white tiger is not an albino because they are not pure white with pink eyes. The coat of the white tiger is a chalky white and the stripes are chocolate to charcoal colored. Their eyes are ice-blue in color.
White tigers are powerful animals just like orange tigers. However, quite a few white tigers are not as healthy nor as strong as they might be. This is because of “inbreeding”. Inbreeding is when fathers mate with daughters just as Mohan and Radha did 60 years ago. Or sister mates with a brother. This is not something that people are allowed to do but it does happen with animals if people make sure it happens. The sad truth is that unless this happened there would be no white tigers. It is the way nature works.
A lot of zoos have white tigers because people like to see them. There are some zoos in America where they have lots of wild cats. The best ones to see wild cats are listed below (three of them have white tigers but lots more have snow leopards):
- Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. They have white tigers.
- “The Cat House” in Exotic Feline Breeding Compound 3718 60th St W, Rosamond, CA but they don’t have a white tiger.
- Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL)
- DeYoung Family Zoo (Wallace, MI) – they have white Bengal tigers.
- Henry Doorly Zoo (Omaha, Nebraska)
- Central Park Zoo (New York, NY)
- Buffalo Zoo (Buffalo, NY)
- Cats World Park (Cave Junction, OR) – white tiger are here.
- Cat Tales Zoological Park (WA 99021)
- Memphis Zoo (Memphis, TN 38112)
- Hogle Zoo (Salt Lake City, UT)
But please check before going because the animals in zoos change all the time. The white tiger is very beautiful and people like to see them. But if a lot of them are not healthy is it a good thing that we have them in zoos?
A final point. People have reported seeing black tigers and blue tigers. There are no living or stuffed black tigers anywhere. As for blue tigers, they have been written about so are more likely to have existed. All of these different coat colors are caused by the way genes work. Genes are a very complicated subject so I’ll stop there.
- Original photo of white tiger
- Note to parents: you will probably see various versions of the circumstances surrounding the capture of Mohan. I use good sources but the history is probably a bit uncertain due to elapsed time and for political reasons. It is now considered unethical to kill tigers for sport. At the time is was just about considered morally acceptable, sadly