According to zoologists and wildlife experts, albinism is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or colouration in a person, animal or plant, resulting in white hair and pink eyes in mammals
Bangladesh's first-ever white tiger cub, also known as albino, has been doing well since its birth at the Chittagong Zoo.
The female cub is yet to be named.
Bengal tigers Raj and Pori gave birth to the three cubs – one male and two females – on July 19.
Unfortunately, the lone male cub was accidentally crushed under its mother's paws. It was also an albino.
Dr Shahadat Hossain, Chittagong Zoo's acting deputy curator and veterinary surgeon, told the Dhaka Tribune that this was the first-ever birth of a white tiger in Bangladesh.
"The birth of a white tiger cub is a very rare phenomenon. No white tiger has been spotted yet in the wilderness of Bangladesh, and no zoo or safari park in the country has one. The first white tiger was spotted in the wilderness in India in the 1950s. The offspring of the albino tiger are now found in various zoos in India," said Dr Shahadat.
"Animals can be pure or partial albinos. Pure albinos usually have pink eyes, nails, scales and skin. They are pink because without colouration, the blood vessels show through. Partial albinos have some of the colouration typical to their species, but parts of their body appear white. However, simply being white does not make an animal an albino. The true test is whether it has pink or light blue eyes. The cub born at the zoo is a pure albino," he added.
"Both tiger cubs, including the white one, are doing fine. The first two months are a critical period for the cubs. We will vaccinate the two cubs when they are two months old on September 19. After that, we will unveil them to visitors," said Dr Shahadat.
According to zoologists and wildlife experts, albinism is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or colouration in a person, animal or plant, resulting in white hair and pink eyes in mammals.
Albinism occurs in almost all animal species which have the pigment called melanin – which gives skin its colour – in their bodies. These include reptiles, amphibians, molluscs, birds, and mammals.
Albinism is passed genetically from parent to offspring. Each cell contains numerous pairs of genes – one from each parent. These transmit traits through generations, with an albino offspring resulting from a specific combination of genes.
"Albinism is a genetic disorder which causes partial or complete absence of the pigment melanin. It is infrequent because the genes for that trait are recessive while the genes for normal pigmentation are dominant. If both are present, normal pigmentation occurs. If only recessive genes occur, albinism may result. Only a small percentage of animals carry the recessive gene, so the chance of the pairing of recessive genes in an individual animal is very small," said Prof Dr Badrul Amin Bhuiya, chairperson of the Biodiversity Research Group of Bangladesh.
Member Secretary of Chittagong Zoo Executive Committee Ruhul Amin expressed his optimism that the number of visitors would swell with the birth of a rare white tiger cub at the zoo.
Set up on February 28, 1989, the zoo is located on a six-acre stretch of hilly terrain in the city’s Foy’s Lake area.
Run by Chittagong district administration, the zoo now houses more than 360 animals of 67 species.