White lions are so rare that they are generally considered extinct in the wild. So zookeepers in the Ukraine were left flabbergasted a few weeks back when two pregnant female tawny lions (whose mates are also tawny) gave birth to five white lion cubs.
‘We expected that the cubs would be beige or straw-coloured, the natural colour of lions, but we were really, really pleasantly surprised,” Alexander Dyakov, a vet at the Yalta Zoo, told the International Business Times. ’That is, it’s a great rarity for Ukraine, for Europe, for the whole world, white lions are a real rarity. And we have two female lion cubs, absolutely healthy, absolutely strong. We wait for them to grow up and be exhibited.”
They actually now have five white lion cubs, as the three born at a safari park have been brought to the Yalta Zoo to be raised with their two white cubs. The cubs are being bottle-fed in the zookeeper’s office every two hours due to the mother not producing enough milk. Lions being born white is caused by a recessive gene not yet understood by scientists.