|White bengal tiger|
|Subspecies||P. t. tigris|
|Panthera tigris tigris|
|White bengal tiger|
The White Bengal Tiger is variant of the bengal tiger species, instead of an orange coat with black stripes, it has a white coat with black stripes, and has blue irises. It is not albino however, as it still has stripes, and the eyes aren't red.
Compared to normal-coloured tigers, white tigers tend to be larger- both at birth and as fully grown adults. Kailash Sankhala, the director of the New Delhi Zoo in the 1960s, said "one of the functions of the white gene may have been to keep a size gene in the population, in case it's ever needed."
Dark-striped white individuals are well-documented in the Bengal Tiger subspecies, also known as the Royal Bengal or Indian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris or P. t. bengalensis), and may also have occurred in captive Siberian Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), as well as having been reported historically in several other subspecies.
Currently, several hundred white tigers are in captivity worldwide, with about one hundred being found in India. Nevertheless, their population is on the increase. The modern white tiger population includes both pure Bengals and hybrid Bengal–Siberians, however, it is unclear whether the recessive white gene came only from Bengals, or if it also originated from Siberian ancestors.
The unusual coloration of white tigers has made them popular in zoos and entertainment showcasing exotic animals. German-American magicians Siegfried & Roy became famous for breeding and training two white tigers for their performances, referring to them as "royal white tigers", the white tiger's association with the Maharaja of Rewa.
Rewa Maharaja Martand Singh first observed male white tiger Mohan during his visit to Govindgarh jungle at Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, India. After hunting for months, he was able to capture the first living white tiger seen in nature. With help from official veterinary experts, he unsuccessfully tried to breed the white tiger with colored female tigers. Eventually, however, he succeeded in creating a second generation of white tigers. In time, it expanded around the world.
An additional genetic condition can remove most of the stripping of a white tiger, making the animal almost pure white. One such specimen was exhibited at Exeter Change in England in 1820, and described by Georges Cuvier as "A white variety of Tiger is sometimes seen, with the stripes very opaque, and not to be observed except in certain angles of light." Naturalist Richard Lydekker said that, "a white tiger, in which the fur was of a creamy tint, with the usual stripes faintly visible in certain parts, was exhibited at the old menagerie at Exeter Change about the year 1820." Hamilton Smith said, "A wholly white tiger, with the stripe-pattern visible only under reflected light, like the pattern of a white tabby cat, was exhibited in the Exeter Change Menagerie in 1820.", and John George Wood stated that, "a creamy white, with the ordinary tigerine stripes so faintly marked that they were only visible in certain lights." Edwin Henry Landseer also drew this tigress in 1824.
The modern strain of snow white tigers came from repeated brother–sister matings of Bhim and Sumita at Cincinnati Zoo. The gene involved may have come from a Siberian tiger, via their part-Siberian ancestor Tony. Continued inbreeding appears to have caused a recessive gene for stripelessness to show up. About one fourth of Bhim and Sumita's offspring were stripeless. Their striped white offspring, which have been sold to zoos around the world, may also carry the stripeless gene. Because Tony's genome is present in many white tiger pedigrees, the gene may also be present in other captive white tigers. As a result, stripeless white tigers have appeared in zoos as far afield as the Czech Republic, Spain and Mexico. Stage magicians Siegfried & Roy were the first to attempt to selectively breed tigers for stripelessness; they owned snow-white Bengal tigers taken from Cincinnati Zoo (Tsumura, Mantra, Mirage and Akbar-Kabul) and Guadalajara, Mexico (Vishnu and Jahan), as well as a stripeless Siberian tiger called Apollo.