Keepers showed off a rare white Bengal tiger cub that was born in a Baghdad zoo two months earlier.
The cub, with its unusual white and black-striped coat, made its first public appearance at Al Zawra Zoo, playing with other tiger cubs and keepers.
The zoo's deputy director general, Salah Asker, said that the birth was a great conservation achievement.
“Al Zawra Zoo has witnessed on May 22 the birth of the first white and black striped Bengal tiger. This white tiger is considered one of the rarest tigers in the world, actually the birth of such tiger is considered a great achievement for the zoo. This tiger has a genetic mutation that produces white species of tigers,” he said.
All white tigers are Bengal tigers and a genetic mutation gives them their white appearance.
The tiger cub was being closely monitored by a team of vets as white tigers are considered to have weaker immune systems, added Asker.
“These tigers, actually, because of their genetic mutation are considered to have weak immune systems, so our team of vets and keepers are required to give this case special round-the-clock attention,” he said.
There are around 1,850 Bengal tigers left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with poaching putting the species at high risk.
In August 2008, two Bengal tiger cubs were donated by a conservation society in North Carolina to the zoo.
The donation came after a U.S. soldier shot and killed a Bengal tiger at the zoo after the animal injured a colleague who was trying to feed it through the cage bars.
During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the zoo lay in ruins and U.S. soldiers killed four lions that escaped from the zoo, as hundreds of animals were stolen or let loose by looters.
But the zoo has witnessed a transformation in recent years, with the new cub sure to attract many more visitors hoping to catch a glimpse him.
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