Tigers are famous for their orange coats and black or brown stripes – but did you know there are also white tigers in the world? Unfortunately, no white tigers are thought to remain in the wild; all the existing ones are in captivity. Nevertheless, they are an interesting variation of the species. Here are some facts about white tigers.
White tigers aren’t a separate species
There is only one tiger species in the world and two subspecies – the Continental tiger and the Sunda tiger. White tigers aren’t a separate type of tiger, they just have a genetic mutation called leucism. This makes their fur white with grey or brown stripes, and their eyes blue. Although that makes them beautiful to look at, in the wild this mutation would actually be a disadvantage, making it harder for the tigers to hide from prey. That’s one reason why we can’t find them in the wild anymore.
White tigers have been around for centuries
White tigers are extremely rare in nature, with only an estimated one in 10,000 born. To occur naturally, both parents must carry the gene for white colouring. The first one was spied in India as early as the 15th century, which shows they have been around – albeit in exceptionally low numbers – for several hundred years.
White tigers have crossed eyes
The striking blue eyes of white tigers carry a genetic issue: they’re crossed, whether it shows or not. The gene that causes the white coat also causes the optic nerve to be wired to the wrong side of the brain, meaning they can’t see as clearly as their orange relatives.
You can see white tigers ethically
Although white tigers have been bred to attract visitors in the past, there are now conservation facilities where you can see these beautiful creatures ethically. These conservation organisations operate a no-breeding and no-interaction policy, aiming to educate visitors about white tigers instead of exploiting them.
Have a tea party with a friendly tiger
Although the tale of white tigers is quite a sad one, there are safe and ethical ways to have fun with tigers. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Sheffield this autumn, why not head to the Lyceum Theatre to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea? This Olivier Award nominated production is aimed at children aged three and above, and is packed with sing-along songs, clumsy chaos and magic.
Put the Lyceum Theatre on your list of places to go in Sheffield, and catch this fabulous show from 7-9 November. As kids’ activities in Sheffield go, it’s one you can’t miss! Book your tickets today.