Kolkata, India: A zoo in Havana has welcomed the country’s first-ever white Bengal tiger, a rare kind that has never been seen in the wild.
Mother Fiona gave birth to four pups at the National Zoo of Cuba in March, including white tiger Yanek; nevertheless, the cubs are only now independent enough to be exposed to the public as they play and swim in their unique zoo pool, according to the zoo.
“We are very happy that a white tiger has been born in Cuba; it is the first time that this has happened,” said the animals’ caretaker Angel Cordero.
They were also the first tiger cubs to be born in Cuba in almost two decades.
Fiona and fellow Bengal tiger Garfield, along with Yanek, are the proud parents of sisters Melissa and Gaby, as well as brother Miguel.
White tigers are “a genetic abnormality,” according to the WWF, with none known to occur in the wild. Several hundred are kept in captivity.
According to the organization Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota, which assists and studies felines, white tigers are Bengal tigers whose parents contain a recessive trait. They aren’t albinos, nor are they a distinct species.
BENGAL TIGERS CARRY REGRESSIVE GENES. WHITE TIGERS ARE ABNORMAL IN THE WILD (IMAGE VIA PHYS.ORG)
According to the sanctuary website, several parks and zoos inbreed white tigers because the uniqueness attracts more tourists, but this sometimes comes at the cost of deformities and other genetic abnormalities.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed Asian large cats as endangered.
According to the WWF, there are roughly 3,900 wild tigers left, but “far more work is needed to safeguard this species if we are to safeguard its future in the wild.”
“In some areas, including much of Southeast Asia, tigers are still in crisis and declining in number,” the WWF website says.
According to Cordero, the cubs were behaving in an “aggressive” manner, imitating their mother while mock-attacking one another.
Fiona receives 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of meat a day in the zoo, while the cubs, who already weigh between eight and eleven kilograms, each receive two kilograms.