Five rare white tiger cubs die in Indian zoo

Jan 28, 2014
White tiger cubs play in their enclosure at the Zoological park in New Delhi, on March 3, 2007

Five rare white tiger cubs have died at New Delhi's zoo because of "neglect" by their mother, an official said Tuesday.

The cubs, born last week, died over the weekend after the seven-year-old tigress refused to feed or care for them, curator of Delhi's National Zoological Park told AFP.

"The mother did not even try to feed the cubs. She would not even hold the babies close to her. She totally neglected them," Riaz Ahmad Khan said.

The said it was unable to save them because they were too young.

A sixth cub survived against the odds and is now battling for its life in a veterinary facility, where it is being fed fresh goat's milk, Khan added.

Early death is common among white tigers since they owe their appearance to a genetic mutation, which can result in other defects such as low immunity and malformed organs, experts say.

White tigers hail from eastern and southern Asia, but have not been seen in the wild in India since the 1950s, according to conservationists.

Khan said the zoo had been trying to breed its white tigers in a bid to boost numbers. The zoo has six white tigers, four of which are female.

"White tigers are very popular with visitors. We try to ensure the breeding takes place between partners born of different sets of parents," he said.

Some experts say inbreeding of white tigers to boost numbers can magnify their genetic problems.

Indian zoos have been the target of fierce criticism from wildlife experts in the past over concerns including poor sanitation, overcrowding and contaminated food.

A rhinoceros died at the Delhi zoo last year from suspected anthrax while a female giraffe died of severe diarrhoea in 2011 after contracting a virus.

In 2010, 32 blackbuck antelopes died after drinking sewage water that flowed into their enclosures at the same zoo.

"We try to give the animals the best care possible but sometimes there are situations which are unavoidable," Khan said.

India is home to 1,706 Royal Bengal tigers and less than 100 white tigers, which are all in captivity, according to the last census in 2011.

Rampant poaching and loss of habitat due to human encroachment are cited as the major challenges to tiger conservation efforts.

Explore further: Three Bengal tigers born at Paraguay zoo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rare Sumatran tiger cubs born at US zoo

Aug 08, 2013

Two rare Sumatran tiger cubs were born this week at the National Zoo in the US capital, in what zookeepers described Thursday as a conservation victory for the critically endangered cats.

US tiger kills Malayan female on first mate

Dec 23, 2013

Zoo keepers are probing why a male Malayan tiger killed a four-year-old female tiger it had only just met, when they were brought together for breeding purposes in California.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.