A Chinese safari park has welcomed its newest and most adorable residents. Four white lion cubs were born in the Jiangsu province of eastern China at the Nantong Forest Safari Park. The cubs, all of which are males, are in wonderful health.
The lovely cubs were born in November of last year, and the park’s devoted staff will continue to care for them until they are strong enough to rejoin the rest of the lions that live there.
White lions are an exceptionally rare species. Their distinctive white fur is the product of a recessive trait known as leucism. Leucism, unlike albinism, causes a partial lack of pigmentation. However, the eyes, mouth, and claws remain normal.
Unfortunately, these magnificent creatures are not only rare, but also severely endangered. White lions are a highly endangered subspecies, with only 13 individuals remaining in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. While it’s difficult to say how many of these beautiful wild cats are kept in captivity, reports suggest there are roughly 300 around the world. So when a white lion is born, there is a lot of excitement!
Even though their numbers are rapidly diminishing, white lions are not yet recognized as a distinct species, and hence are not legally protected. “The White Lions are classified as Panthera leo, which means they may become threatened with extinction in the future unless trade is closely controlled,” according to the Global White Lion Protection Trust website. “The White Lion gene needs to be researched, understood and protected, as a matter of urgency.” You may see some unusual white lion cubs roaming in the wild in the video below!