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.
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.