|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Here in South Africa at the Rhino Lion Park they have a Breeding Program for the white Tigers these are not in a Zoo encloser they have a large section of land where they live.|
White tigers are individual specimens of the ordinary tiger (Panthera tigris) with a genetic condition that nearly eliminates pigment in the normally orange fur although they still have dark stripes. This occurs when a tiger inherits two copies of the recessive gene for the paler coloration: pink nose, grey-mottled skin, ice-blue eyes, and white to cream-coloured fur with black, grey, or chocolate-coloured stripes. (Another genetic condition also makes the stripes of the tiger very pale; white tigers of this type are called snow-white or ghost tigers.)
White tigers do not constitute a separate subspecies of their own and are interfertile with orange ones, although all of the resulting offspring will be heterozygous for the recessive white gene, and their fur will be orange. The only exception would be if the orange parent was itself already a heterozygous tiger, which would give each cub a 50% chance of being either double-recessive white or heterozygous orange.
Compared to orange tigers without the white gene, white tigers tend to be larger both at birth and at full adult size. This may have given them an advantage in the wild despite their unusual coloration. Heterozygous orange tigers also tend to be larger than other orange tigers. Kailash Sankhala, the director of the New Delhi Zoo in the 1960s, suggested that the white gene functioned to retain a size gene in the population.
Dark-striped white individuals are well-documented in the Bengal Tiger subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris or P. t. bengalensis), may also have occurred in captive Siberian Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), and may have been reported historically in several other subspecies. White pelage is most closely associated with the Bengal, or Indian subspecies. Currently, several hundred white tigers are in captivity worldwide with about 100 of them in India, and their numbers are on the increase. The modern population includes both pure Bengals and hybrid Bengal–Siberians, but it is unclear whether the recessive gene for white came from only from Bengals, or from any of the Siberian ancestors as well.
Tigers in India are recognized as a single subspecies, but within India and throughout the tiger's geographic range they tend to be smaller, darker, and more densely striped the further south they are found, the Sumatran (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and now extinct Javan (Panthera tigris sondaica) and Bali (Panthera tigris balica) races being the smallest. The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis), is the most primitive and may be the stem species ancestral to all other tigers. There is a lot of individual and regional variation within subspecies. The Bengal is the nominate subspecies or species type, the definitive tiger. For many years it was the kind most commonly seen in the West. It was the standard issue zoo and circus tiger, and it was the Bengal tiger which conformed most fully to the image of a tiger in the Western psyche. It was the tiger of Rudyard Kipling and the Raj. The Bengal tiger became known in the United Kingdom as the "Royal Bengal tiger" after it was hunted by Edward, Duke of Windsor when he was Prince of Wales.
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