“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” ~ Alice Walker
Covering an area of 130 hectares and located in the biggest city in south China Guangzhou, Chime-Long Xiangjiang Safari Park is considered the biggest and best animal theme park in Asia. It was my first trip to Guangzhou, China back in 2008 and the first thing we did was visit this incredibly huge park.
Since it opened to the public in 1997, the park has already received over millions of tourists and was recognized as China’s largest and best safari park. As the first zoo to be awarded the National 5A class Tourist Attraction Level in China, it is home to over 20,000 animals from 460 species including many rare and endangered species (an example, 100 white tigers born in this park covers over 50% of the whole amount of this species on earth).
And here I found one of my dreams to come true — seeing the breathtaking white tiger up close. Oh, if I could only cuddle one of those and not be bitten off in the neck (paging Siegfried and Roy!). I have also witnessed these exotic wonders in their fascinating circus called Cirque du China.
According to Wiki, the white tiger is a recessive mutant of the Bengal tiger, which was reported in the wild from time to time in Assam, Bengal, Bihar and especially from the former State of Rewa. Compared to normal colored tigers without the white gene, white tigers tend to be somewhat bigger, both at birth and as fully grown big adults. Currently, several hundred white tigers are in captivity worldwide, and their population is on the increase. The unusual white coloration of white tigers has made them popular in zoos and entertainment showcasing exotic animals.
The white tiger is not considered a tiger subspecies, but rather a mutant variant of the existing tiger subspecies. The presence of dark stripes indicates it is not a true albino (there are also “stripeless” white tigers with very pale stripes).
Here are other fascinating facts I’ve learned:
- White tigers, Siamese cats and Himalayan rabbits have enzymes in their fur which react to temperature, causing them to grow darker in the cold. This is why Siamese cats and Himalayan rabbits are darker on their faces, ears, legs, and tails (the colour points), where the cold penetrates more easily. This is called acromelanism.
- White tigers have been prone to crossed eyes, a condition known as strabismus, (just like “Clarence the cross-eyed lion” who had a movie in the 60s) due to incorrectly routed visual pathways in the brains of white tigers. When stressed or confused, it is said that white tigers cross their eyes. Siamese cats and albinos of every species which have been studied all exhibit the same visual pathway abnormality found in white tigers. Siamese cats are also sometimes cross-eyed, as are some albino ferrets.
- The last spotting of a white Bengal tiger in the wild was in Rewa (Central India) on 27, May 1951. This male tiger was captured by the Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa and named Mohan – it is from this animal that all white tigers in captivity today are descended.
- (unverified) A white tigress was seen in the Terrai of Nepal in 2005, with three normal colored cubs in tow. The tigress and cubs moved on after being hounded by photographers, but was seen again with the cubs twenty miles away six months later.
- Here’s a fascinating read: White Tiger: History Lessons Nepal
You may want to visit my gallery of Chime-Long Xiangjiang Safari Park.