Mummy, where are my stripes? Pure white Bengal tiger astonishes keepers
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:15 AM on 07th July 2009
source: Mummy, where are my stripes? Pure white Bengal tiger astonishes keepers | Mail Online
It doesn't take a wildlife expert to spot the difference between this white Bengal tiger cub and the rest of her family. For six-month-old Fareeda missed out when they were handing out the stripes.
That makes her an extreme rarity - and a major attraction at the South African conservation centre where she was born.
Fareeda's mother Geena and father Shiva are kept at Cango Wildlife Ranch, near Cape Town, as part of a breeding programme to keep their species alive.
Blue-eyed girl: Squeaky-clean Fareeda at just a few weeks old
Last Christmas Day, Geena had three cubs - Fareeda, her brother Shahir and sister Sitarah. Keepers immediately noted Fareeda's lack of markings but had to wait to see if she developed them later.
'Some cubs develop stripes in their first few months but after six months it's clear that Fareeda is truly one of the rarest of her kind,' said keeper Odette Claassen, 52.
'When she was born Fareeda had noticeably pale colour. It did cause a stir of excitement amongst the staff. But we knew there was the possibility of the cub's very light black and ginger stripes darkening over time.'
Star with no stripes: Basking in the sun with Shahir and Sitarah
The white Bengal tiger used to be common in the wilds of India, but now exists only in captivity after falling victim to disease and poaching.
Apart from Fareeda, the only other stripeless examples are in the U.S., descended from a single male captured in the 1950s.
'She has a lovely nature and loves playing with her brothers and sisters, although she has nipped me a few times when she wants a feed,' added Miss Claassen.
Cream of the crop: Fareeda with her siblings shortly after birth
'White Bengal tigers are not albino - they have distinctive blue eyes, and they used to be found in Northern India before they died out.
'My hope is that one day Fareeda and her kind can be returned to their native habitat.
'That is why it is so important to educate people about tigers and keep the breeding programmes going.'