Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Sugar, the male White Tiger, explores his new home at the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort.
Andrew Henderson
Sugar, the male White Tiger, explores his new home at the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort.

Sheikha Latifa adds white tigers to zoo's big cats

Two white tigers, a male and a female, have been gifted to the Al Ain Wildlife Park by by Sheikha Latifa Bint Rashid bin Khalifa, a member of Dubai's ruling family.

AL AIN // Two white tigers have been gifted to the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) by a member of Dubai's ruling family. Sugar and Spice, a female and male, both two years old, were put on display last night.

The gift by Sheikha Latifa Bint Rashid bin Khalifa means AWPR is the only zoo in the GCC to have white tigers on display.

Raised at the Royal Palace in Dubai since they were three months old, the tigers are domesticated and quite tame, according to the veterinarian that cared for them at the palace. A promotional DVD shows the teenaged Royal Family member at home petting them as they nuzzle up to her like any domesticated house cat.

"They are very sociable and tame," said Dr Mohammed Thenayan, who helped to care for the cubs. "They are very used to being around people and were roaming in the palace until the age of four months, but then they got to be quite large.

"At the palace we had a proper enclosure for them with an indoor and outdoor room and a pool. When they reached the age of two, Sheikha Latifa decided that we should donate them to the zoo, as she wanted others to share in the joy."

White tigers exist only in zoos around the world, with none in the wild. They are a colour morph of the tiger, caused by the recessive gene chinchilla albinistic. Contrary to popular belief, they are not albinos and are distinct because of their white coat and blue eyes.

"Wild tigers are in urgent need for protection, preservation and conservation," said Dr Michael Maunder, the chief of conservation at AWPR. "Out of the nine known sub-species, three are extinct with the remaining six being either endangered or critically endangered. The display of these white tigers will promote increased public awareness about the desperate situation of tigers in the wild."

For Sheikha Latifa, who came to see her tigers at AWPR yesterday, the reunion was bittersweet.

"After long consideration I decided to donate Sugar and Spice to Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort as I know they will take good care of them. I am sad that they are gone as I have had many wonderful memories with them," she said. "But to see them here in an enclosure that resembles the wild and one bigger than the one we had them in at home makes me happy. I am sure they will be happy here."

AWPR was happy to have the rare white tigers in its vast collection of endangered species. Last year the zoo acquired two white lions.

"For the first time, white tigers will be on public display in the UAE and we are excited that the debut happens at our zoo, which has one of the largest collections of big cats worldwide," said Farshid Mehrdadfar, manager of the animal collection department at AWPR.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National