White Tiger (Panthera tigris) is a tiger with a genetic condition that nearly eliminates pigment in the normally orange fur although they still have dark stripes. This occurs when a tiger inherits two copies of the recessive gene for the paler coloration: pink nose, grey-mottled skin, ice-blue eyes, and white to cream-coloured fur with black, grey, or chocolate-coloured stripes. (Another genetic condition also makes the stripes of the tiger very pale; white tigers of this type are called snow-white.)
White tigers do not constitute a separate subspecies of their own and can breed with orange ones, although all of the resulting offspring will be heterozygous for the recessive white gene, and their fur will be orange. The only exception would be if the orange parent was itself already a heterozygous tiger, which would give each cub a 50% chance of being either double-recessive white or heterozygous orange.
Currently, several hundred white tigers are in captivity worldwide with about 100 of them in India, and their numbers are on the increase. The modern population includes both pure Bengals and hybrid Bengal–Siberians, but it is unclear whether the recessive gene for white came only from Bengals, or from any of the Siberian ancestors as well.
It is a myth that white tigers did not thrive in the wild, where small groups had bred white for generations. India once planned to reintroduce them to the wild.
However, most white tigers are now bred in captivity, often by inbreeding parents and cubs to ensure the presence of the recessive gene. Such inbreeding often also leads to birth defects.
The unusual coloration of white tigers has made them popular in zoos and entertainment that showcases exotic animals.