While Siegfried and Roy's nonprofit organization, the SARMOTI Foundation, writes that the cubs - named Justice and Liberty - died of an "infection that ultimately lead to kidney failure," such an untimely demise should have come as no surprise to even them.
As the group Big Cat Rescue pointed out on Facebook, breeding for white tigers is an act of genetic manipulation tantamount to playing Russian roulette with their lives.
The neonatal mortality rate for white tiger cubs is 85%. White tigers are not a subspecies - they are a genetic anomaly, and inbreeding for the recessive allele that is necessary to create white tigers carries numerous serious and well-documented health risks including renal failure (the cause of death for Liberty and Justice), blindness, cleft palate and a diminished life expectancy in the off-chance that the tiger survives infancy.
Yet unscrupulous exhibitors like Siegfried & Roy expressly breed to create white tigers because they look exotic and are money makers. Breeding white tigers is killing tigers, and sadly Liberty and Justice are in the 85% statistic who did not survive infancy due to renal failure. Shame on Siegfried & Roy and the Mirage Hotel.
Siegfried and Roy, and the SARMOTI Foundation, insist that the breeding of tigers like Justice and Liberty plays an important role in the protection of their species, though such claims are lacking in specifics. The Dodo, for an earlier post, made repeated attempts to learn more about SARMOTI's conservation efforts, but our calls were not returned.