This is something totally unheard of for me until today. I was looking at the popular posts on my blog and as usual Top 10 Hybrid Animals has been the topmost blog for more than a year now. To celebrate this, I thought it would be a great idea to have Hybrid / Mutant animals week. To start it off, here we go with the White Lion.
The white lion is occasionally found in wildlife reserves in South Africa and is a rare color mutation of the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panthera leo krugeri). It has been perpetuated by selective breeding in zoos around the world. White lions are not a separate subspecies and they have never been common in the wild.
White lions are not albino lions. Instead, the white color is caused by a recessive gene known as chinchilla or color inhibitor.
Prized for their rarity, the White Lions were artificially removed from their natural habitat into captive breeding/hunting programs in South Africa, and sent to zoos and circuses around the globe, most famously Siegfried and Roy’s magic act in Las Vegas.
Tragically, all White Lions today are in captivity. After their forced removals from their sacred homelands, they have been extinct in the wild for over 12 years.
Though not as common as white tigers, white lions are now being found in more and more zoos and may well be the current “must have” big cat. Their value as attractions may well send them down the same path as the white Bengal tiger: mass production, inbreeding and indiscriminate crossing with other subspecies e.g. to produce larger, showier manes for circus acts.