Four white tiger cubs bred by Marcus Cook die in Duluth

Four white tiger cubs bred by Marcus Cook die in Duluth


Courtesy: Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune


Their births made them instant celebrities in Duluth, but now four white tiger cubs have died. The cubs were found dead Thursday morning at the same traveling carnival where they were born two days earlier.


The cubs and their mother are owned by Zoo Dynamics of Dallas, Texas. Their handler, Marcus Cook, says the cause of their deaths is unknown. He says necropsies are being performed by his company’s veterinarians, but insisted no mistakes were made in the animals’ care. "Sometimes mother nature is in the driver’s seat," said Cook.


The breeding of white tigers has been the subject of controversy. Ron Tilson, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo is among the most vocal critics. Tilson said white tigers only exist because of inbreeding, which leads to a "huge death rate for white tiger cubs." Tilson said cubs that do survive often have birth defects like crossed eyes and curved spines.


Tilson said most zoos, including the Minnesota Zoo, won’t breed or display white tigers. However, they are prized by some private collectors who will pay thousand of dollars to own them.


Several hundred white tigers exist in captivity, but Tilson said none are known to have been born in the wild since the 1950’s.


Click on story link to see photo of the babies the day they were born, which is when they were first used as props by Marcus Cook despite USDA policy that says cubs cannot be used until they are 8 weeks old. 




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