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Rare white lions born in circus

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Rodrigo Cokting
Staff writer

Saturday, August 23, 2014, 8:24 PM - Kimba, move over. . . you might have some competition.

Four white lion cubs were born in an eastern Germany circus. The three males and one female are in good health and playful spirits, according to Circus Krone's spokesperson.

The animals are not albino, but rather the product of two lions carrying the recessive white fur gene. Their father King Tonga was a gift from a Saudi Prince and often mates with all four lionesses in his pride—two of which are white.

While golden-fur lions are common in Africa, the white variety only calls home the Timbavati region in South Africa.

According to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, the earliest recorded sighting of white lions was in 1938 but oral records of African elders indicate these animals have been around for centuries.

The genetic marker that makes these Lions different has not been identified yet but research could eventually lead to a sub-speciation of the large cats. In 1992, White Lions were technically extinct as none of them existed in the wild. But reintroduction of the species has now led to three full prides living in their natural habitat.

Some people believe that white lions struggle to survive in the wild due to their difficulty to camouflage.

In 2012, the Toronto Zoo received three white lions.

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