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White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation
, 2007
colour photograph
94, 8 x 113,9 x 3,2 cm
plate: 16,6 x 11,4 cm
edition 6/7+2A.P.
Kenny was born to a breeder in Bentonville, Arkansas on February 3, 1999. As a result
of inbreeding, Kenny has mental retardation and significant physical limitations. Due
to his deep-set nose, he has difficulty breathing and closing his jaw, his teeth are
severely malformed and he limps from abnormal bone structure in his forearms.
White tigers are extremely rare in their natural habitats in Asia. In the U.S., all living
white tigers are the result of selective inbreeding in captivity to artificially create
the genetic conditions that lead to white fur, ice-blue eyes and a pink nose. Currently,
inbreeding such as father to daughter, brother to sister, mother to son has
become commonplace. It produces a white cub less than 25% of the time, with only
approximately 3% of those considered “quality“. The three other tigers in Kenny's
litter are not considered to be quality white tigers as they are yellow coated, crosseyed,
and knock-kneed.
Conservation experts challenge the perception that white tigers are a rare and
endangered species. Instead, they state that zoos, breeders, and entertainment acts
have over-bred white tigers for financial gain, citing instances where private breeders
and zoos have sold “quality” white tigers for over $60,000. The grave health consequences
of inbreeding and over-breeding have led to abortions, stillbirths and a high
mortality rate among infants. The Species Survival Plan has condemned the practice.
In recent years there has been a significant drop in their market value.
Aquired 2007
Inv. Nr. 2007/72
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main
Gift of the artist
picture credits:
© Taryn Simon
Photo: Axel Schneider
Taryn Simon
* 1975 in New York, NY (US)