Is there any image more ferocious and fear provoking than a pouncing tiger? Known for its speed, the animal's name is believed to have derived from the Greek, Tigris, meaning arrow, but is possibly even older and Persian in origin.
White tigers with their pink noses and blue eyes are very rare, and in 1977, the Chinese government passed a law banning the killing of them. Despite this, it may have come too late, and these animals are probably already extinct in the wild.
White tigers are white because of a recessive gene that creates the pale stripe coloration. They are not albinos, as true tiger albinos would have no stripes at all. These tigers can breed with orange ones, although all of the resulting offspring will have orange fur. Currently, there are breeding efforts to reintroduce these beautiful animals into the wild.
There are 59 captive white tigers and they all reside in China. Among them is a group that is even rarer than the rest due to their mild temperament. Originally trained to perform tricks for visitors at China's Chongqing Wild Animal Park, these five animals have become so tame that they are fearful of the food they are supposed to kill and eat!
Zookeepers are trying to encourage these animals to follow their natural instincts and become aggressive, but even with throwing them live chickens to eat, they have not been successful.
"They are supposed to be wild and scary, but due to their soft lifestyles and human care they have gradually lost their wild nature. I have been trying to interest them with live chickens but it was quite a funny scene. The tigers were so scared that they wouldn't go near them. One chicken passed out and the tigers did eventually approach it, but then it woke up again and squawked and they ran for their lives," claims animal feeder, Shi Ruqiang.
Zookeepers are now forcing the tigers to remain outside their cages for at least twelve hours a day in hopes this will toughen them up. If this fails, the next step is to introduce a wild tiger to teach them exactly how "fierce" is done.
"If all else fails, we will simply cut down their rations until they are so hungry that they are forced to hunt for themselves," Shi stated.
It would seem that old question about nature vs. nurture is a valid argument in this instance.