The most adorable delivery ever — a litter of four rare white lion cubs were born at Circus Krone, a Munich-based circus that is currently on tour in Magdeburg. The litter consisted of three males and one female. They were born Wednesday night, and are reportedly healthy, eating well, and spending their time playing.
These rare white lion cubs are not to be mistaken with albino lions. Instead, both their mother Princess (age seven) and their father King Tonga (age 11) carry a unique gene that causes the white fur.
According to the Global White Lion Trust website, the greater Timbavati bush region in South Africa is the white lions’ only natural range and are classified as a “vulnerable species,” meaning that without proper protection, they may soon again become extinct. However, because they are not a separate species from lions, but are instead a genetic mutation of the same species, they cannot be afforded the protection of an endangered species. White lions were actually extinct for at least 12 years, but then reintroduced to South Africa. There are only three white lions actually in the wild Timbavati; the majority of white lions are held in captivity.
Susanne Matzenau, a spokeswoman for the Circus Krone, said that the rare lion cubs would not perform in the circus for at least four years. The cubs will spend a year with their mother, and then later be introduced and mixed in with the other lions, and then undergo training. According to Matzenau, cubs meet their trainers when they get their names, and they expect to name these little ones within four to five weeks’ time, saying that the lion-tamer “wants to observe them first and see their character.”
As for the proud mama and papa, this is not their first rodeo… or is that circus? The two gave birth to a litter in 2012 — a total of six cubs, but none of them were white. Princess is apparently not that pleased with the sudden celebrity of her new babies, reportedly growling and moving her body to shield her offspring from the cameras. Princess and King Tonga are both white themselves. But Princess is only one of four to King Tonga, who was a gift to the circus from a Saudi Prince. Tonga has one more white lioness in his pride, as well as two gold-colored ones, and, according to Susanne Matzenau, “He’s fulfilling his duty very well as a husband.”
One thing is for certain — those four little lion cubs are definitely the “pride” of the circus!
[Images via The Local]