Carole’s Letter to Tampa Tribune Re: White Tigers

Avatar BCR | March 27, 2007 1 View 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Dear Lenora,


Thank you for covering the story about the two white tigers at Lowry Park.  Do you know the name of the breeding facility that was said to have gone under?  Have you seen the lock out area where these cats will have to spend half of their lives, so that they can be rotated through the exhibit?  I think you would be appalled.  Small, barren holding areas are the norm at zoos because people want to see active cats, so by restraining them and depriving their senses in these holding areas for much of their life (any time the zoo is not open and in this case much more of the time) then when they finally do get to see the sun, they appear happy in their exhibit.  That is an awfully heavy price that the animals have to pay for our amusement.  


There hasn’t been a white tiger seen in the wild since 1951, because they cannot live to adulthood and are only caused by severe inbreeding.  Anyone who knows anything about tigers will tell you that the white coat is linked to severe birth defects caused from inbreeding.  Who should know better than the head of the tiger Species Survival Plan, Ron Tilson?  


Dr. Ron Tilson, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, is the director of the Tiger Species Survival Plan and has actually worked in the field to save them.   He is quoted on our page about white tigers.  "The white tiger controversy among zoos is a small part ethics and a large part economics. The tiger Species Survival Plan has condemned breeding white tigers because of their mixed ancestry, most have been hybridized with other subspecies and are of unknown lineage, and because they serve no conservation purpose. Owners of white tigers say they are popular exhibit animals and increase zoo attendance and revenues as well. The same rationalization can be applied to the selective propagation of white lions, king cheetahs and other phenotypically aberrant animals."


"However, there is an unspoken issue that shames the very integrity of zoos, their alleged conservation programs and their message to the visiting public. To produce white tigers or any other phenotypic curiosity, directors of zoos and other facilities must continuously inbreed father to daughter and father to granddaughter and so on. At issue is a contradiction of fundamental genetic principles upon which all Species Survival Plans for endangered species in captivity are based. White tigers are an aberration artificially bred and proliferated by some zoos, private breeders and a few circuses who do so for economic rather than conservation reasons."


Since back in the late 1990’s when I was involved in the Felid Taxon Advisory Group, which is comprised of AZA members, the AZA has been telling member zoos not to waste cage space on white tigers because it takes away from cage space necessary for real conservation breeding.  


It was not until the March 2006 newsletter that AZA formally spoke out against breeding white tigers.


You can contact the American Zoological Association at  Do a search on that page for "white tigers" and you will see that they are trying to debunk the myth that white tigers are an endangered species that should be bred.


While I am all in favor of Lowry Park providing homes to cats who have been rescued, I think it is important that the public know the truth about white tigers so that they do not clamor to see an animal that is bred merely for profit.



For the cats,


Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue

an Educational Sanctuary home

to more than 100 big cats

12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625

813.493.4564 fax 885.4457


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