Funday Times

White tigers from China

By Dhananjani Silva, Pix by M. A. Pushpa Kumara

Have you heard the story of two uncommon visitors who came to Sri Lanka recently all the way from China? After about a 10 hour long air journey via Kuala Lumpur from China, on February 28th morning they arrived in Sri Lanka.

Visit the National Zoological Gardens (NZG) in Dehiwala and you will encounter these special visitors – an exotic pair of white tigers belonging to the Panthera tigris species which is considered as endangered and rare. It is the first time that a pair of white tigers has been brought to the country.

They were brought to Sri Lanka from the Xiangjiang Safari Park in China as part of an animal exchange

Xiangjiang Safari Park is considered the biggest reservation of white tiger appreciation and reproduction in China. As part of the exchange programme, four monkeys and a female baby chimp have been given to China from Sri Lanka.

The two white tigers, named Sudhara and Shwetha, housed at the Zoo are an unrelated pair.

Male tiger Sudhara is three and half years old while Shwetha the female is three years and two months old. Since they are carnivorous animals they are being fed with beef and chicken.

According to the NZG officials, they become white in colour due to what is known as a Melanistic ondition – i.e. when their recessive genes become dominant.

However, when they breed, sometimes their offspring turn out to be brown in colour as they have a tendency of breeding only an average
of 25% white cubs.

Except for their pale colouration resulting from melanistic conditions, their eating habits and behavioural patterns are similar to that of the normal tigers.

However, white tigers are rare and there are only about 700 such tigers in the zoos all over the world.

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