White Tiger History

White Tiger History - Page 1&2: The First Known White Tigers | 3: White Tigers In The U.S.A. |
4: Chronology Of The White Bengal Tiger

The first captive-bred white tigers:

In adulthood, Mohan was bred to a wild-caught orange tigress named Begum, but her three litters contained only cubs of normal colouration (we now know that the combination probably did not have the genetic code to produce white tigers). She was then sold to the Ahmedabad Zoo and the Maharajah looked for an alternative partnership which might bring the desired white cubs.

Mohan was then bred to Radha, one of his daughters from the second litter, and this resulted in four white cubs: Raja, Rani, Sukeshi and Mohini. Subsequently, using this method, white specimens were able to be produced at the rate of one for every three orange tigers.

Breeding father to daughter set in place a future for the white tiger which was to involve numerous cases of inbreeding, and which still continues even to this very day.

Raja and Rani:

Two of the cubs, Raja and Rani were gifted to the National Zoological Gardens in New Delhi where they became the zoo's most famed exhibit.

The partnership was bred and Rani eventually went on to produce 20 cubs, all of which were white. The only other captive tigress to equal this number was Chandani of Alipore Zoological Gardens in Calcutta.

Rani and Raja's mother (Radha) also produced a large number of cubs, giving birth to 13 whites and 9 orange tigers. She died on the 2nd May 1974 and is still considered the First Lady of white tigers.

Mohan's death:

The great Mohan died aged 19 years and 7 months.

Plans had been made for a large celebration of his 20th birthday, but instead he was laid to rest in a palace courtyard with full Hindu rites and staff observing official mourning.

The last known wild white tigers:

Mohan was the last recorded capture of a white tiger and the last wild white to be known was shot at Bihar in 1958.

In the past century, there have only been a dozen or so reports of white tigers being seen in the wilds of India, and some of these may be considered inaccurate. It is extremely unlikely any wild whites still exist due to the rare genetic combination required to produce them and the overall rarity of all tigers.

On top of this, any white cub starts at an enormous disadvantage in that it does not have natural camouflage and would attract predators. Any white tiger which did survive to adulthood would experience great difficulty hunting.

White tigers are considered extinct in the wild.


On the 29th August 1979 white tiger Seema was sent to Kanpur Zoo as a potential mate for normal coloured Badal (from the 4th generation of  Mohan-Begum mates). This project did not succeed and the aim then became to mate Seema with either Sheru or Titu, both captured notorious man-eaters from the Corbett National Park area. Eventually the mating with Sheru was successful. 

Seema delivered a litter of three cubs: Sajeev, Uttam and Johar, out of which one, Johar, was white. 

This was considered surprising because, as per the commonly accepted hereditary principles of Mendelian genetics, white offspring should not have been produced if the father, in this case Sheru, was normally-coloured homozygous.

This event has given rise to a school of thought that there could perhaps be some white gene pool in the habitat of Corbett Park from where Sheru was captured.

White Tiger History - Page 1&2: The First Known White Tigers | 3: White Tigers In The U.S.A. |
4: Chronology Of The White Bengal Tiger

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Photography With Thanks To Hans Stenström
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