White Tiger Facts for Kids

by eslevy17

White tigers are some of the rarest and most popular big cats in the world. Read on for interesting facts about white tigers, for kids, and parents too.

The white tiger is one of the rarest big cats on Earth, existing only in captivity, drawing kids and adults to zoos all over the world to get a glimpse of this very special feline.

But there's plenty of controversy as well, since breeding white tigers can be tricky, resulting in unhealthy animals that cannot survive.

So read on to find out more fun and interesting facts about white tigers to learn all about this super rare big cat.

Fun White Tiger Facts for Kids

Panthera tigris tigris

The white tiger is one of the rarest cats in the world, with only about 200 known to exist today, and probably none that exist in the wild. The last time one was known to be alive in the wild was 1958. Today, they can only be found in zoos, where their unusual color makes them a popular attraction for visitors hoping to see this incredibly rare animal.

Vandalur Zoo, Chennai, India
Vandalur Zoo, Chennai, India
VikiUnited

Although it might seem like it, white tigers are not actually albinos. They simply carry a very rare gene that makes their fur white instead of orange (and gives them blue eyes), while still keeping the stripes. This gene is found in about 1 out of every 15,000 tigers, and since there are only a few thousand tigers living in the world at all, this gene is incredibly hard to find. That's why zoos and other groups often breed white tigers together, hoping to produce more cubs with the same special color.

Is the White Tiger a Separate Species?

Facts in common with other tigers

The white tiger is not actually a separate type of tiger; it is usually a Bengal tiger, which is the most common type in the world, though occasionally some of them are part Siberian tiger as well.

If they were found in the wild, their diet, habitat, lifestyle and other behaviors would be pretty much the same as a regular tiger's.

Relaxing
Relaxing
Manjithkaini

They're strong, powerful hunters, often hunting at night, and go after prey like deer or moose, also enjoying smaller animals like monkeys, rodents, rabbits, or birds. They prefer to sneak up and pounce on their prey, getting as close as possible before jumping. They can run very quickly, but not for very long, so they use their stripes to hide themselves while sneaking up as close as they can.

Haifa Zoo, Israel
Haifa Zoo, Israel
Hanay

Tigers are great climbers, jumpers, and swimmers, and can take down prey larger than itself, though most tigers have to try several times before they catch something. They live alone, except when they're born and their mother is taking care of them, or when two adult tigers come together to breed.

They can get pretty big: 6 to 11 feet long in the body (1.8 to 3.3 meters) and can weigh between 300 and 700 pounds (136 to 317 kg).

White Tiger Kittens!

Adorable cubs playing together

White Tiger Toys for Kids

Click to buy from Amazon!
Schleich White Tiger
$6.99  $1.74
Cuddlekins White Tiger 30"
$39.99  $36.40
Melissa & Doug White Tiger Plush
$79.99  $50.00

Discovery and Breeding

It all started with just one...

Although others were sighted in the 1800s, the first white tiger to be captured and used to breed others was named Mohan, found in India in 1951 by Maharaja Martand Singh, the last ruler of the Indian state of Rewa. Every white tiger in the world can trace its family heritage back to him.

Because they are so rare, they have become extremely popular, and can be found in zoos all over the world.

Bangalore, India
Bangalore, India
Ashlyak

The famous performers Siegfried and Roy became well known for their white tigers, used in their performances in Las Vegas and other cities all over the world, and would often work with zoos and other organizations to breed more of them. 

Breeding programs often breed white tigers separately from regular ones, to preserve the white fur coat that makes them so special, although sometimes they are mixed with regular orange tigers to avoid inbreeding. However, because white tigers often have problems, it's not a good idea to use white tigers for conservation purposes.

Controversy and Problems

Genetic problems, inbreeding, and safety

Although incredibly popular, white tigers are also very controversial. They are often born with deformities, such as misshapen bones, club feet, crossed eyes, and sometimes have kidney and tendon problems.

Scientists expect that many of these problems are due to inbreeding, though some may be caused by the white fur gene itself. Because white tigers are more likely to be born with these problems, some zoos have chosen not to breed them, and will not include them in their exhibits. They claim that breeding these animals is inhumane, done simply for popularity to encourage people to visit the zoo.

Others argue that because white tigers live in captivity, there's no real danger due to these problems. But for many animal rights supporters, this isn't enough, with many saying they should not be bred together at all.

Because white tigers are so popular, it is very likely that most zoos will continue to breed them, so that future generations will be able to enjoy them too. Whether or not white tigers will ever exist in the wild again is another story. Because tigers are so rare in the wild anyway, it's most likely that white tigers will only ever be found in captivity, which might be the only way for them to survive.

White Tiger Controversy

Video about genetic problems

More White Tiger Pictures

From all around the world
Moscow Zoo
Moscow Zoo
Palefire
Miami Zoo
Miami Zoo
Averette
Going for a swim
Going for a swim
Abd1997
Cub at the Moscow Zoo
Cub at the Moscow Zoo
Ksenia Krylova

More Big Cat Facts

More info on adorable wild felines
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Updated: on 05/10/2012, eslevy17
 
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Coco on 08/07/2014

I had know Idea that white tigers were supposed to be orange and black that the white comes from inbreeding lots of information for my school report

Alijah Singleton on 05/30/2014

I know right
Its very informative. (smart words :D-)
O-o

Rebekah on 01/16/2014

I love this website! But you should add what kind of habitat they live in. I love white tigers! They are one of my favorite animals!

Jaymee on 11/03/2013

These are my fav. animals I love them!

emily on 05/17/2013

we need to help them

april on 05/02/2013

cool stuff bro

muradjanan on 02/07/2013

White tigers are inbred and this is animal abuse. It must be stopped. Wathc this video http://youtu.be/uhhx3VWPilM



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