Clip of the Day: Should We Celebrate the Birth of Baby White Tigers?

Clip of the Day: Should We Celebrate the Birth of Baby White Tigers?

Why cute baby animal births aren’t always a conservation victory.

This video, from a zoo in Yalta, Ukraine, has started making the viral rounds via Buzzfeed and The Daily What. Although the baby tigers are adorable and the clip lauds their birth as a special occasion, reactions are not what you might expect.

The typical comments on these kinds of baby animal videos usually land somewhere between, “Aw!” and “OMG ADORBZ!,” but informed commenters are instead reacting by spreading the word about the truth behind white tiger breeding.

In nature, white coloration in tigers is a genetic mutation. The reason why they are so rare is because this mutation makes it difficult to survive in the wild. Besides their white color, which makes hunting difficult without natural camouflage, they are cross-eyed and often have clubfeet, cleft palates, spinal deformities and defective organs, according to Big Cat Rescue. To achieve this genetic mutation and breed white tigers in captivity, female tigers are often inbred with their brothers, fathers, or even sons.

The Association for Zoos and Aquariums released a white paper last year banning these breeding practices in zoos they accredit. However, supporters of white tiger breeding say it can be done without inbreeding, and zoos with white tigers attract more visitors, which helps pay the bills for their other conservation efforts.

Where do you stand on white tiger breeding?

A Boston native, Amy has worked in the film industry's social media space since 2008. As TakePart's Digital Community Coordinator, she combines her passion for social good with her knack for connecting ideas and people. Email Amy | @amyeicher

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