African lion Adia, who lives at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, gave birth to her second baby on July 15.
While zoo employees had been anxiously awaiting the cub’s birth, there was a big surprise waiting she finally arrived. The lion, who has yet to be named, was white!
According to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, a South African non-profit, fewer than 13 white lions live in the wild, all in the Timbavati bush region of Africa, though hundreds live in zoos worldwide. The trust says no white lions lived in the wild in the region they come from in 2002, but it reintroduced a few several years ago, and they’ve survived.
White lions aren’t albino, the trust says, but have “a genetic rarity unique to one endemic region on the globe: the Greater Timbavati/Kruger Park Region.”
The Ellen Trout Zoo called in the lion branch of the national Species Survival Plan, a program developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure rare species continue to survive. The SSP keeps a database of certain species, and the zoo wanted to know the frequency of white lion births in zoos.
It turns out, just one white lion cub was born a couple of years ago, but its coloring changed back to that of a regular lion when it was about 6 months.
Now the only question is: will the Ellen Trout cub stay white as snow?