White tigers are actually Bengal tigers with a genetic anomaly manifesting itself in their white coat, as opposed to their traditional orange-and-black stripes. They are not a distinct species, and thus I was unable to find a reliable “population” count. There are fewer than 3,200 Bengal tigers left in the wild, down from 100,000 only a century ago. One out of every 10,000 is estimated to be born with the recessive trait for white fur. The number of white tigers alive today is a result of humans breeding them in captivity. In the wild, their white coats are extremely disadvantageous to hunting for prey, camoflage, etc. They would undoubtedly be weeded out by the processes of natural selection in the wild. Forced inbreeding among these captive tigers is causing significant health problems, and many adults are unable to perform and reporduce to pass along this rare genetic trait.
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