Dear Keith, email@example.com
The part the zoo left out in their description of white tigers is that:
All white tigers are inbred and cross bred and that as a result of the nation's obsession with white tigers there is not one purebred Bengal tiger left in the U.S. All were so greatly inbred as to be dying out, so zoos began cross breeding with Siberian tigers to get any cubs to survive at all. Even these hybrids are usually sickly and die young.
The American Zoological Association condemns the practice of breeding white tigers and urges member zoos to only breed animals that have a conservation Species Survival Plan.
To quote from Dr. Ron Tilson, Conservation Director of the Minnesota Zoo and manager of the world renown Tiger Species Survival Plan, "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."
As for breeding tigers of any color, Ron Tilson says, “For private owners to say, ‘We’re saving tigers,’ is a lie,” Tilson says. “They are not saving tigers; they’re breeding them for profit.”
Last year, when the Tampa Zoo rescued the white tiger parents of the cubs they chose to not do the responsible thing (the thing we did when we rescued the four golden tigers that they left at Savage Kingdom to die) which was to spay the females to be sure no accidental cubs would be born. So they had their litter last year and called it an accident. There is no way that this breeding could be called an accident. It is just one more example of Lowry Park Zoo's poor management.
You can find out all about white tigers here: http://bigcatrescue.org/cats/wild/white_tigers.htm
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
Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:
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Published: November 24, 2008
TAMPA – Two cute-as-buttons white tiger cubs born at Lowry Park Zoo in October are venturing into the public, giving morning zoogoers a glimpse — if they are lucky — of the rare pair.
The 7-week-old cubs were kept behind closed doors until recently, when they started exploring more of the Asian Gardens area. Their mother is Nikki, and their father is Yala.
"The family is doing well, with mother and cubs spending most of their first weeks together off exhibit for their safety and privacy in bonding," according to a written statement released Monday by the zoo. "As the cubs have grown and matured, zoo staff has begun the process of offering access to the outdoor yard for short intervals as the family establishes a new pattern of behavior."
The yet-to-be-named cubs, a male and female, are the second litter for Nikki at the zoo. Born Oct. 4, the male cub weighed 3.6 pounds and the female cub 2.5 pounds.
"The cubs are now well-bonded with mom and are moving about with improving motor skills," according to the zoo. Even though the mother and father are an established couple, zoo officials say, Yala will be separated for the time being from his cubs for their safety.
The cubs recently have been allowed into the public exhibit for short periods of time with zookeepers present, said Rachel Nelson, a spokeswoman for the zoo.
"Some guests have gotten a sneak peek by walking by the exhibits during those moments," Nelson said. The cubs "appear to be adjusting well and will start a regular routine this week."
Zoo officials say the gestation period for tigers is three to four months. The average litter is two or three cubs, which weigh about 2 pounds at birth. Cubs are born with their eyes shut and rely on their mothers for everything for the first three months and nurse for many more.
"The survival of the cubs will be dependent upon the mother's ability to care and nurture them, the cubs' ability to fight any infections associated with normal birth, and the success of weaning and independence," the zoo says.
White tigers originate from Bengal tigers and are not albinos.
"They have blue eyes, a pink nose and white fur covered with chocolate-colored stripes," according to the zoo. "Wild white tigers are very rare because their white coats provide poor camouflage, making them easily spotted by prey."
Reporter Keith Morelli can be reached at (813) 259-7760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.