Tuesday 18 October 2011

Golden Tabby Tiger

I have a problem with the golden tabby tiger. There is nothing to suggest that it has ever existed in the wild. Yet it exists as a tourist attraction in captivity. And people who are pro-captive tigers and pro tigers as pets say that the golden tabby tiger and other tigers with a variety of coat types are good for conservation because they stimulate our interest in the tiger and in supporting conservation. I don't believe it.

Golden tabby tiger on display with "Doc" Antle - Photo by jmwests

The golden tabby tiger's coat is a product of the presence of a recessive gene that lies dormant and is therefore not expressed through a different coat (phenotype). It seems to me that you have to inbreed this tiger in captivity to get the gene to express itself in this rare coat type (seen above).

The white tiger is another example of an acutely inbred wildcat that is bred for the sake of financial profit. There is no element of conservation in the process.

And another thing. To use the word "tabby" indicates to me that is was first used by tiger breeders. The word "tabby" is basically a cat fancy word in the breeding of domestic purebred show cats. It is completely out of place when used to describe the appearance of a tiger.

The photographs of golden tabby tigers I have seen are of flabby not tabby cats! They are overweight and unfit in my opinion. One element of this unfitness might be inbreeding. The liger, which is a tiger/lion cross, also comes to mind as an overweight flabby big cat.

There are no references to the golden tabby tiger in the respected Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist. They refer to the melanistic tiger (black tiger) and white tiger but not other morphs. The melanistic tiger has been seen three times, once in each of Myanmar, Bangladesh and eastern India. All white tigers stem from one tiger, Mohan a captured cub, his white mother having been killed. White tigers are inbred too and it causes well documented major health issues.

Sorry to sound very pessimistic but the golden tabby tiger (ridiculous cat breeder's style name) is all about people who like to keep captive wildcats and make a bit of money on the side. It's about personal self interest. There is nothing altruistic about it.

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