Two rare white African lion cubs were born recently at the Zoodoo Wildlife Park in Tasmania. At just 5 weeks old, you could say the cubs are the “pride” of the park!
According to zookeeper Trevor Cuttriss, there are less than 300 white lions worldwide. These lions are not albino, as one might think. Instead they display a rare recessive gene that causes a lack of pigment in their coat.
Warning: this just-released video of the cubs is extremely cute and likely to put a smile on your face!
Although the zookeeper in the video said that white lions no longer exist in the wild, that’s not exactly true. White lions are naturally occurring (in very low numbers) in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park in South Africa, and there are some in the Karoo area as seen from Sanbona Camp in South Africa as well.
The White Lion Protection Trust has successfully reintroduced 3 white lion prides to their natural endemic habitat in the Timbavati region. Preliminary results have shown that the white lion prides are just as successful at hunting as the “normal”/tawny colored prides, dispelling the myth that white lions cannot hunt successfully due to a perceived lack of camouflage.
We also want to point out that breeding white lions comes with controversy. Wildlife conservation organizations such as LionAid.org denounce breeding white lions because mating two lions with the recessive white lion gene can create inbred animals with “skeletal deformities, neurological problems, digestive abnormalities, reproductive problems, and short lifespans.” They also argue that zoos should not support South African lion breeders by buying their white lions because those breeders also sell the lions to trophy hunting operations.
What do you think? Should breeding white lions be outlawed altogether? Should organizations like the White Lion Protection Trust be reintroducing white lions in the wild in the name of conservation or is it just promoting more breeding and trophy hunting?
More photos of the cubs in Tasmania: