The Blue Tiger, also know as the Maltese Tiger, is, as the name would suggest, a blue tiger that has historically been reported mainly in the Fujian Province of China and have been sighted on only a few rare occasions. To support the scientific aspect of the Blue Tiger theory, other species of cats have been known to take on a Maltese hue. The most common of these is a domestic breed known as the Russian Blue, however blue bobcats and lynxes have also been recorded.
The first documented sighting of a Blue Tiger by a western explorer took place in September of 1910 when American Methodist missionary Harry R. Caldwell described a clear sighting of a tiger colored in deep shades of blue and Maltese while hunting in China. Caldwell, an experienced tiger spotter and hunter who shot hundreds of big cats during his time in China, was watching a goat while exploring the Fujian Province when something blue caught his eye from behind a cluster of bushes. At first glance Caldwell believed the object to be a man dressed in blue crouching behind the foliage. However, upon second glance Caldwell noticed the huge head of the tiger above the blue which he originally thought to be clothing.
Caldwell’s assistant raised his gun to fire at the beast but two small children where in the field playing and Caldwell did not want to chance hitting them. During the time it took for the men to reposition their shot the Blue Tiger had vanished. Caldwell described the tiger as having a Maltese base color which changed to deep blue on the undersides. He noted that the stripes appeared to be similar to those of a Bengal Tiger, only of a blue color.
He named the tiger he saw that day Bluebeard, and although he never caught or killed the Blue Tiger, villagers continued to report the presence of what they referred to as a Blue Devil roaming the area. Caldwell’s son would later write in the book, Our Friends the Tiger, published in 1954, of the finding of Maltese colored hairs along the mountain trails while accompanying his father during his many expeditions to located the Blue Tiger.
Another report of the Blue Tiger comes from the son of a US Army soldier who served in Korea during the Korean War. His father is certain that he sighted a Blue Tiger in the mountains he was stationed in; near what is now the Demilitarized Zone. Sightings of Blue Tigers have also been reported in Burma. Caldwell’s hunting expedition indicated that the Blue Tiger preferred to live in regions where they were less likely to encounter humans.
The Blue Tiger is not thought to be a new species of tiger but more of a genetic mutation caused by the chinchilla gene, the same gene found in white tigers. The South China tiger, whose range covers the Fujian province where the majority of Blue Tiger reports come from, is considered to be the stem species from which all other tigers evolved from, so it is with in the realm of possibility that the chinchilla gene mutation originated in the South China Tiger resulting in a higher concentration of blue grey individuals in that area. Descendent species of the South China Tigers may have then inherited the gene, which may have combined with other genes to produce white tigers.
Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, noted that large Blue Tigers have been persistently reported from China since the 1920’s and after some research suggested that the color in Blue Tigers may have been caused by melanism. Melanism is a condition in which there is an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation of an individual or organism. The combination of melanism and the tiger’s original colors may have caused some individuals to appear with a blue hue.
An example of this occurred in 1964 when two ordinary Bengal tigers gave birth to a smokey blue melanistic tiger cub. The cub died in infancy however and there remains no Blue Tigers in zoos or private collections around the world. Because no official verdict exists on the subject of Blue Tigers, and we can only speculate as to the exact reason the creature takes on its blue hue, the Blue Tiger remains an unrecognized animal in the eyes of modern science, leaving it firmly in the realm of Cryptozoology.
While some blue fur has been recovered from the Fujian Province of China, it was not enough to conclude that the Blue Tiger is real, hence no physical evidence of the Blue Tiger is known to date.
In September of 1910, Harry R. Caldwell observed what he claimed was a Blue Tiger in a field while hunting ordinary tigers in China.
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Hybrid / Other
• Size: The same as an average tiger
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Carnivorous
• Location: China
• Movement: Four legged walking
• Environment: Jungle