A rare white lion cub is already the star attraction at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska.
According to CBS News, the yet-to-be-named white lion cub and his two siblings were born on November 21. His brother and sister don’t share his white fur, but they’re equally as adorable.
The white lion cub’s pale coat is the result of a rare recessive gene linked to lions from Timbavati in South Africa, and he was a big surprise when he arrived at the zoo. Dennis Pate, director of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, told Reuters that the zoo was not aware that the cub’s parents carried the white gene.
“These weren’t intentionally bred to produce a white lion — it’s just that this male and female each had this rare gene. It’s a circumstance that came together to produce this little guy.”
The rare white lion cub’s parents are named Ahadi and Mr. Big. The white cub and his siblings were six-year-old Ahadi’s first litter, and right now the furballs are being cared for by their mother and their aunt, Mfisha.
Both female lions are reportedly so protective of the cubs that they probably wouldn’t let Mr. Big get near them right now, so the proud papa will have to wait to meet his progeny. The public will also have to wait a bit to meet the babies, but Pate told the New York Daily News that they should be on display soon. For now you’ll have to settle for the squee-worthy video of the white lion cub and his siblings below.
If you want to witness more big cat cuteness, the Inquisitr previously shared a video of a white tiger cub trying to find her voice.
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is now one of just five American zoos that can boast housing a white lion. White lions also reside at Toledo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
White lions are also rare in the wild, so it was big news when a photographer captured three wild white lion cubs on film in Timbavati. According to the Daily Record, their birth brings the total global wild white lion population to just 13. Only six of these white lions were actually born in the wild.
The birth of the three white lion cubs is good news, but white lions are huge trophies for wealthy hunters. Former model Linda Tucker, a conservationist who is dedicated to saving white lions, warned that the wild white lion cubs won’t have it as easy as the white lion in Omaha’s zoo.
“The survival of these cubs, and the future of white lions in the wild, is in jeopardy if trophy hunting continues.”
[Image credits: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium/Facebook]