Bengal tigers are unique among the big cats in that they appear in four distinct color varieties. The most common is the orange and black or Standard color. Less common is the White (white with black stripes), first recorded in the 1500's and now found in many zoos and private collections. The Golden Tabby (golden with reddish stripes) is extremely rare, numbering about 70 in captivity. The most rare of all is the striking Snow White Bengal tiger (white with faint gold stripes.) There are only about 25 of these extraordinary Bengal tigers known to exist, 8 of which make their home with us at the Marcan Tiger Preserve.
A common misconception is that the white tiger is the Siberian (Amur) subspecies, while in truth, the Bengal is the only subspecies of tiger to display the four distinct color schemes. A Bengal tiger mother can produce cubs with any of the color variations provided she carries the appropriate recessive genes, and she can have cubs of any or all colors in the same litter. These colors are not mutations, rather they are natural color variations, although the Golden Tabby and Snow White haven't been seen in the wild in over a century.