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Rare White Tiger Cub Euthanatized in Greece

A rare white tiger cub that was left abandoned, hiding under the bins in the town of Spata, Greece, in February was euthanized on Monday. Credit: Attica Zoological Park

A rare white tiger cub that was left abandoned, hiding under the bins in the town of Spata, Greece, in February was euthanized on Monday.

The cub was found under a garbage bin outside the Attica Zoological Park, east of Athens, in a desperate state. Jean-Jacques Lesueur, the founder of the zoo where the white tiger was housed, explained last week that the decision on the fate of the animal was made and it will be euthanized, as it cannot be saved.

Hasija, as the female cub was called by its carers at the zoo, had 33 broken bones, “and every breath she takes causes excruciating pain,” he had said.

“No one knows where it came from or how it got here,” Lesueur said at the time. “It’s in terrible condition,” he said.

As he explained it is obviously the act of an unscrupulous person, who, after illegally acquiring the white cub, decided to get rid of it because of its disability.

On Monday the zoo announced that Hasija was “put to sleep painlessly, in the place where she lived all this time and among the people who cared for her, loved her and became very attached to her during these 6 weeks.”

Euthanasia “was the only option”

The zoo explained that the tiger cub underwent specialized tests throughout this period. The results of the imaging tests and blood tests were sent to the competent authorities in Greece and to specialized centers in Europe, America and Africa. It said that it asked wild animal centers abroad whether they could take care of the animal.

“The responses received from these centers ruled out this possibility.” It also notes that a 12-member committee of Greek veterinarians set up by the Ministry of the Environment also gave its opinion based on the medical data of the young animal.

“Unfortunately, his serious incurable and painful genetic problems, incompatible with an elementary quality life and the rules of well-being, led both the Greek veterinarians who were members of the committee, as well as the foreign experts, to unanimously recommend to the competent authorities that euthanasia was the only option, as often happens in cases where an animal is suffering without hope of improvement.”

The zoo finally appeals for an end to the smuggling of wild animals: “Everyone’s wish on the occasion of this sad story is that everyone will be more aware of the need to fight the smuggling of wild animals and that there will be a greater intensification of the efforts of the competent authorities in this direction.”

Rare white tiger cub

Conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) describes white tigers as “a genetic anomaly,” with none known to exist in the wild.

They are often the result of inbreeding, exposing them to a host of health problems at birth. A white tiger’s pale coloration is due to the lack of the red and yellow pheomelanin pigments that normally produce the orange coloration. An additional genetic condition can result in a near-complete absence of stripes, making the tiger almost pure white.

The color of the white tiger’s fur is the result of a genetic mutation called leucism. In fact, this white coat would be a hindrance in the wild, as it doesn’t provide a tiger with any camouflage, which greatly reduces their chance of survival.

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