Meet The Animals

White Tiger

Meet Chalet (f), born May 28th, 2008

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
Species: Panthera tigris

Personal Info:

Born in Nashville, TN, Chalet has been a resident at Out of Africa Wildlife Park from the time she was 2 weeks old. Coincidentally, her roommate and best friend, Kumba (a lioness), was also born on the same day. They have been together since they were each 2 weeks old. Tigers are very comfortable in water, and Chalet is no exception. Chalet is one of our participating Tiger Splash™ stars. She has mastered the art of jumping into water, as demonstrated by her spectacular leaps. Amazingly, Chalet has developed this skill without any training, as no animals are trained at the park. Instead, they are allowed to be themselves and have fun on their own terms.

Habitat:

Currently white tigers are only found in captivity. They have all come from 3 captured individuals — 2 from India and 1 from Russia. The last sighting of a white tiger in the wild was in India in 1970. The only known white tigers have been from the Bengal 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.

Physical:

Males weigh 385 – 600 pounds
Females weigh 285 – 450 pounds

Male white Bengal tigers have a total length, including the tail, of 8 to 10 feet, and a height at the shoulders of 3 to 3 ½ feet. The tiger’s hind limbs are longer than the forelimbs, an adaptation for jumping. Their claws are retractable and protracted when being aggressive. A white tiger’s pale coloration is caused by the presence of a recessive gene. White tigers do not constitute a separate subspecies of their own and can breed with orange ones, although the resulting offspring will likely have orange fur.

Life Cycle:

Mating can occur all year round but is generally more common between November and April. A female is only receptive for a few days, and mating is frequent during that time period. The gestation period is 100 to 106 days. The litter size usually consists of around 3 to 4 cubs, which are born blind and helpless. At the age of 2 to 3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient, even though they’ve become independent at about 18 months. Sexual maturity is reached at 3 to 4 years for the female and 4 to 5 for the male. Tigers live 15 to 20 years in the wild, up to 26 years in captivity.

Behavior:

Unlike lions, tigers hunt alone and will ambush prey. They establish and maintain home ranges. The size of a tiger’s home range mainly depends on prey abundance, and, in the case of male tigers, on access to females. To identify his territory, the male marks trees by spraying urine and anal gland secretions, as well as marking trails with scat. Males show a grimacing face, called the “Flehmen” response, when identifying a female’s reproductive condition by sniffing her urine markings. Like the other Panthera cats, tigers can roar. Tigers will roar for both aggressive and non-aggressive reasons. Other tiger vocal communications include moans, hisses, growls, and chuffs. Males kill offspring that are not their own.

Diet:

Tigers are carnivores, or meat eaters. They can consume up to one fourth of their body weight at one time. They prefer large hoofed animals such as chital, sambar, and gaur.

Fun Facts:

  • Tigers have been known to become “man-eaters,” usually because the tiger is old or disabled and cannot hunt successfully, or when their normal prey is becoming scarce.
  • Each tiger has its very own stripe pattern. Researchers who observe tigers can identify individuals by their unique stripes!
  • Tigers are very comfortable in water and even enjoy the snow in colder climates.
  • White tigers are believed to be extinct in the wild but very popular at zoos and parks.
  • White tigers occur when inbreeding produces two copies of a recessive gene.
  • Contrary to popular belief, white tigers are not albinos; true albino tigers would have no stripes. Even the “stripe-less” white tigers known today actually have very pale stripes.

Conservation Status:

White tigers are merely a genetic color mutation of the Bengal tiger and do not constitute a separate species. At this time, populations of Bengal tigers are estimated between 1,300 and 1,500. But according to zoologists, there is only a 1 in 15,000 chance that a Bengal tiger will be born with the white genetic mutation. In the past 100 years, there have only been 12 confirmed reports of white tiger sightings in the wild, the last of which occurred in 1970. It is widely believed that there are currently no white tigers in the wild today.