The Light and Dark of White Tiger

White Tiger Doll

A White Tiger Doll in Port Moody Public Library

Tigers are very powerful figures in Asian mythologies and white tigers are even more important than normal tigers since they have a mystical status. If a tiger is a king, then a white tiger is a holy guardian. The prime example of this is found in the Chinese constellations, in which the White Tiger guards the West and represents Autumn. It is also a symbol of valor. So strong is this symbolism, Republic of Korea has nicknamed the 707th Special Mission Battalion “White Tiger” (Baek Ho in Korean). In Japan, a group of young warriors called White Tiger Division (Byakkotai in Japanese) fought in Boshin War (1868-1869).

However, white tigers are often subjected to cruel treatment by various zoos. Because of their high status in folklore, white tigers are popular showpieces and they are often inbred to increase their number. They are rare because the white tiger gene is recessive. Even more tragic, inbreeding often leads to various health problems and genetic defects.

Unlike their mythological counterparts, real life white tigers are symbols of greed and cruelty to animals. According to big cat conservationists and zoologists, they have no value as a species and little chance at survival because of their inbred gene pool.

Humans have imbued these animals with mystic qualities because they are different from normal only to hurt them by inbreeding now. They are tools for our entertainment and not majestic predators.


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