White tiger cubs born in the Ukraine

A white tigeress named named Tigrulya gave birth to four tiger cubs in a Yalta zoo on the seventh of May. The newborns are in good health and are being taken care of by staff at the Skazka Zoo in southern Ukraine.
Tigress Tigrulya showing off one of her cubs
Photograph: AP
The name of the mother tiger, Tigrulya, was chosen to honour the former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. A contest is now being held to name the four newborn cubs.
four tiger cubs
Four beautiful cubs, snug in a wooden basket
Photograph: AP
It is very rare that four white tigers are born in a single litter and what is more one of the cubs is an albino with no striped markings on his body at all. Previously (on the 4th August 2010) a litter of rare white tiger cubs were born at a zoo in northern Germany. These events are extremely important as fewer than 250 white tigers exist worldwide, most of them in captivity. It is said that less than one hundred white tigers exist in the wild.

White Tiger

Cat of the Month ~ January 2012
white tiger image
The White Tiger, rarely seen in the wild.
Photograph: animal-wildlife.blogspot.com

White tigers are basically a colour variant of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis), and are rarely found in the wild. It is though, reported as having been seen in the wild from time to time in the Assam, Bengal, and Bihar regions of India and especially from the former State of Rewa (in fact home to the very first white tiger). It is believed that all white tigers in captivity in the world today are the descendants of this single white tiger, caught (and named ‘Mohan’) by the Maharajah of Rewa in the year 1951.

The White Tiger is almost identical to the now famous Royal Bengal Tiger except for a genetic mutation that causes a change in the colour of the fur and eyes. The origin of the Bengal Tiger is believed to be from the region we know today as Siberia. From there, these Siberian Big Cats (Panthera tigris altaica) migrated south over the course of thousands of years (and as the climate of their native territory became colder). Today Asia, India and Malaysia all are home to tigers (some of which are white due to genetic mutation), although their numbers are dwindling.

White tigers are only born when two tigers that both carry the unusual gene for white colouring, mate. Unfortunately there are many forced breeding programs currently in progress which are detrimental to those tigers bred in captivity. This is indeed often a sad tale which is outlined in the following very serious and informative article [White Tigers – Conserving Misery]. (Not for the very young or easily upset, Ed)

Where present, white (and other) Bengal tigers will be found regions of dense undergrowth and forested areas where they can camouflage themselves and ambush their prey.

Though, today white tigers are mostly confined in zoos (for example the Nandan Kanan Zoo in Orissa, India) they are also found in many National parks, such as those in India and the Far East.