Dana is a female white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) born in early 2008. She was sent to us after her facility was shut down and she was extremely aggressive. Within hours of her arrival, the director believed she was in pain rather than aggressive and rushed her to the vet where they took x-rays. From the x-rays they saw a foreign matter and underwent emergency surgery where they removed a towel that was deteriorating in her stomach, the vet believed the towel had been in her stomach for some time. She arrived weighing only 110 pounds when she should have weighed over 200 pounds for her age. She also arrived with rickets, ulcers in both eyes, as well as Entropion, a condition where the eyelid folds inward. She has one leg that is two inches wider than the other three, but is doing very well and is much happier now that she is pain free and her health issues have been resolved.
White tigers are not their own species, nor are they albino. The white tiger gene is a recessive gene carried only in the Bengal tiger subspecies. The genetic condition creating this reduced pigmentation is known as leucism, whereas an albino animal has complete lack of pigment. In order for a white tiger to occur, both parents must have this recessive gene controlling coat color. This is extremely rare in the wild. Should a white cub be born in the wild, its coloration would offer no camouflage and it would likely be vulnerable to predators while young. White tigers also have difficulty hunting because with the lack of camouflage they are not able to sneak up on their prey. Due to popularity of white tigers and a very small gene pool, almost every white tiger has a genetic problem, mainly due to inbreeding, such as cleft palates, scoliosis of the spine, mental impairments, and strabismus.
Bengal tigers are the only tigers that can be born with color variations and there are three distinct color varieties: orange and black, white and black, and snow white and black. All have the classic stripes, which traverse beyond fur and are actually skin deep. No two tigers have exactly the same stripes.
Tigers are a rarity among cats, as they love to swim and are quite adept at it. Tigers are solitary animals and heavily scent-mark their territory. They are sit-and-wait predators, using their coat as camouflage and wait until prey is within pouncing distance before attacking. Main sources of food include buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals. Tigers have even been known to take down small elephants. A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 lbs of meat in one night, though they don’t usually eat that much on a regular basis.
Bengal tigers (also called Indian tigers) are found in the Indian subcontinent. The mangrove forests of Sundarban, shared between Bangladesh and India, are the only mangrove forests where tigers are found. Today, Bengal tigers are mostly in India. Bengal tigers are the most common of the tiger subspecies in the wild, as well as in captivity.
Bengal Tiger Quick Facts:
|Body Length||5 – 6 ft|
|Weight||240 – 500 lbs|
|Gestation Period||103 days|
|Litter Size||2 – 4 average|
|Life Span||8 – 10 years in the wild, 10 – 12 years in captivity|