TIGER

Panthera pardus

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White Tiger at Cincinnati Zoo by D. Byrd

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White Tiger photo sequence by Fonofbafut

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"Albinism in most species is usually around the 1 in 10,000 mark ... although white tigers are not actually true albinos (which might give them a slightly higher survival rate than true albinos, albinism is caused by a recessive gene, generally leads to problems with blindness ...

The problem is, of course, that encouraging the breeding of white tigers for our own visual entertainment causes more and more of the lethal genes to be expressed, including physiological and morphological deformations - skeletal, ocular and high cub mortality, especially if breeders give in to the temptation to breed white tigers with white tigers (rather than two standard bengals that have the recessive gene)

I know the standard 'positive' outlook is that if we get people interested in tigers (especially pretty white ones), then we will have funds to continue the efforts to save them etc ... it encourages hypocrisy, preferential treatment ... and often shifts the focus away from the absolute crucial direct immediate problem; conserving habitat ..."

If you save the tigers habitat, you save the tigers ... and you then automatically save the white tigers, because with a diverse gene pool, that gene will continue to be expressed naturally from time to time. Breeding them specifically serves no useful function, ... and we'd be better served directing our attention to keeping their native habitat intact."

 - Comments by Nathalie

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Tiger - picture submitted by Lisa

'No natural predator except man'  

- Comment by Lisa.

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RANGE: Siberia Northern China India Southern Asia and south originally to Java and Bali where now extinct

HABITAT: Forest. Mountains.

SIZE: 2-3 metres (tail adds up to nearly a metre)

DIET: Mammals. Fish.

CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered. Rare.

NOTES: Can climb. Fast movers when hunting prey. Generally nocturnal and shy. Usually live alone. Northern subspecies are paler. Hunting and loss of forest habitat major causes of massive declines in numbers.

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'We would be followed by a knot of onlookers and have to face the barrage of silly questions that tiger feeding always seemed to bring on.

"Why is the meat raw?"

"Would they eat it if you cooked it?"

"Why has a tiger got stripes?"

"Would they bite you if you went in with them?"

This sort of question was generally asked by adults; the children asked much more sensible questions as a rule.'

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FROM BEASTS IN MY BELFRY © Gerald Durrell 1973

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