I was six when the Buffalo Zoo announced that through an arrangement with the Cincinnati Zoo, Buffalo would soon be home to a cross-eyed white tiger who was mother to almost one fifth of the world’s known population of white tigers. Sumita arrived in Buffalo in June 1989 and was something of a celebrity. Or at least so it seemed to a six-year-old me who lived within walking distance of the zoo. I remember the excitement of my mother [who at this point, I had only seen her as enthusiastic at this when the zoo brought in a Koala the summer prior] as we went to the bustling zoo, to sneak between the crowds and catch a glimpse of the mutant Bengal Tiger [technical term, continuing…]
Sumita passed away in Buffalo in the summer of 1990 and was quickly replaced by a male named Mota later that year. I can recall my younger sister and I each having a stuffed tiger. Hers was the white one and was named Sumita; mine was a traditional orange and black tiger, but owing to the attractive power of the spectacle that was the white tiger in the zoo that summer, I named mine Mota.