SALINA (KSNT) — A white tiger at Rolling Hills Zoo, Raja, was euthanized on Thursday due to failing health.
Raja would have been 20 years old in November and had been with the zoo since it opened. Raja came to the zoo in 1996 from a private breeder. He was loved by visitors and staff alike.
In the wild, tigers live from 8 to 12 years depending on the species. In captivity, they live an average of 16 to 18 years, or possibly longer than 20 years.
White tigers are not albinos. Instead, their paleness is due to a genetic defect that causes a lack of red and yellow pigments. As with other genetic defects, tigers with this mutation are also susceptible to life threatening disorders. So, due to their genetics, white tigers tend to have a shorter lifespan. The Rolling Hills Zoo says, “Raja was therefore an exception in that he has been with us for nearly twenty years.”
Rolling Hills says that, in the wild, tigers are threatened with extinction due to poaching, loss of habitat, and and medicinal trade. Rolling Hills says that it is “part of a worldwide effort to help preserve these animals for the future.”