Family Structure and Reproduction
At about three years of age, a White tigress will be sexually mature, ready to bear her first litter. The gestation period is approximately 3.5 months long, and an average of three or four cubs is born. However, this number can be as high as five. Still, large litters usually mean that at least one cub dies. The cubs will begin to hunt for themselves at around 18 months of age, but stay with their mother until they are between two and three years old. Thereafter, they will break away from the family structure and live their own life in solitude. The life expectancy of a White Tiger in the wild is about 12 years. Those in captivity are more protected and have their medical needs seen to and are, therefore, likely to live longer.
Because the White Tiger is so rare, it is of particular interest to those visiting zoos and parks. However, they are not a subspecies and do not, therefore, warrant special breeding programmes and initiatives. In fact, breeding them in zoos is frowned upon as it is deemed to be done with the purposes of increasing revenue and tourist attraction, rather than protecting a valuable species. Still, any tiger poaching is illegal and White Tigers are especially valuable for their rare coats. The black market boasts a booming trade in tiger parts (for aesthetic or perceived medicinal purposes). Today, there are several programmes in place to protect tigers from the cruel horrors of which humans are capable.