Published: 1:30PM BST 31 Aug 2010
A white tiger cub born in a zoo in Madras, India, appears to be losing its stripes as most of its body and legs turn black.
The cub went on public display with its two ‘white’ siblings for the first time at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur on Sunday, and quickly became the main attraction.
“I am really delighted to watch it,” said Syed Ibrahim, a visitor to the zoo. “It has three cubs and one cub is really looking different. It has a pink coating on it – looks like some biological change, and it’s really beautiful.”
Black tigers are rare. Biologists believe a large presence of melanin, the dark skin pigment, is the likely reason for its unusual colouring.
Tigers’ skin colour is determined by the presence of black and yellow pigments. In most tigers, the colour yellow dominates over black to give them their characteristic colouring.
“In this cub, the reverse has happened — black is the dominant colour,” senior zoo biologist Dr Manimozhi told The Times of India.
“We are monitoring the cub. The skin colour that he grows into when he reaches adulthood will be the permanent one,” he said.
“It is the dominance of yellow pigment that enables tigers to survive in the wild,” he added. “In fact, this is the reason why most white tigers are found only in zoos and not in the wild,” Dr Manimozhi said.
The three cubs were born on June 6 and are all healthy and active, according to the zoo.
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