Golden Tabby Tiger

A golden tabby tiger is one with an extremely rare color variation caused by a recessive gene and is currently only found in captive tigers. Like the white tiger, it is a color form and not a separate species. In the case of the golden tiger, this is the wide band gene; while the white tiger is due to the color inhibitor (chinchilla) gene. There are currently believed to be fewer than 30 of these rare tigers in the world, but many more carriers of the gene.

Facts | Photo © Tambako the Jaguar

The Golden Tabby tiger: one of the world’s rarest big cats

The Golden Tabby Tiger is an extremely rare colour variation of this exquisite wild cat, and not a separate subspecies. Usually, a Golden Tabby Tiger (or a Strawberry Tiger, as it is sometimes known) is simply a different colored version of the Bengal Tiger subspecies, Panthera tigris tigris.

This tiger is characterized by its gorgeous fawn-coloured (or pale gold) fur with its light-orange stripes and pale (sometimes white) belly and legs. The fur is thicker and softer than other tigers’ fur, giving it a distinctly luxurious look and feel. 

The Golden Tabby Tiger is, to the best of modern knowledge, only in existence in captivity today. And, even in this protected environment, there are only about 30 or fewer of these animals in the world, testifying to its great rarity.

However, there are more tigers that carry the gene (although they display no physical characteristics thereof), slightly improving the chance of more being born. The more that Golden Tabby Tigers are allowed to breed only with one another, the more likely they are to produce more such colour variations, although this is not guaranteed.

Genetically speaking, this tiger has the genes of a normal orange-coloured cat, but also two copies of a recessive wide band gene. This is what lends the Golden Tabby its gorgeous white and ginger markings. Usually, a Strawberry Tiger is the result of a zoo’s breeding white and common orange tigers together (whether intentionally or by accident), rather than a deliberate attempt at breeding Golden Tabbies [1].

This type of tiger became extinct in the wild in 1932 when the last two were shot in Mysore Padesh, India [2].

Photo credit: ©Alida Jorissen

Golden Tigers (or Golden Tabby Tigers) are an extremely rare color mutation that is thought to affect only 30 tigers in the world - all in captivity. The genetic mutation in captive tigers can be traced back to a recessive gene that was in a white tiger named Bhim. Bhim was a carrier of the gene that caused this color mutation, what is thought to be the wide band gene (a recessive trait), and was mated to his sister who also held the wide band gene. Neither of these tigers showed the characteristics of a Golden Tiger but one of the cubs did. The cub was born in 1987.

It is thought that Golden Tigers once roamed the wild but the last two were shot and killed in 1932 and only through captive breeding was this color mutation brought back.

Golden tabby tiger.

The very unusual Golden Tabby Tiger is sometimes known as Strawberry Tiger has light gold fur, pale legs and faint orange stripes. Its fur tends to be much thicker than normal. There are extremely few Golden Tabby Tigers in captivity, around 30 in all.

A Golden Tabby Tiger is one with an extremely rare color variation caused by a recessive gene and is currently only found in captive tigers. It is a color form and not a separate species. These tigers tend to be larger and all Golden Tabby Tigers have mainly Bengal parentage like their cousins -the White Tigers.