White lions are magnificent, light colored beasts that belong to the Panthera leon subspecies of lions.
These creatures are stunning to look at. Certain tribes in Southern Africa regard them as sacred beings due to their regal features.
Unfortunately, they were hunted to extinction in the wild and are now being reintroduced into protected areas.
In this article, we will go over the white lion in greater depth, discussing how rare they are, why they’re so pale, and whether or not they are on the verge of extinction.
So, let’s get into it.
The Basic Details Of The White Lion
The Panthera Leo, otherwise known as the white lion, are a subspecies of lion that do not have the same appearance as your typical lion.
The first white lion was discovered in South Africa’s Timbavati region in 1938, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that these creatures became widely known by the general public.
Because of the creature’s uniqueness at the time, most were bred in captivity, and were made to perform at circuses.
There are currently three white lion prides in Timbavati, as well as countless others living individually in zoos around the world.
Where Did White Lions Originate From?
White lions are native to certain parts of Africa, and their natural habitat is the Timbavati region of South Africa.
On rare occasions, they have been sighted in the Kruger region.
Nowadays, it is very rare to see white lions in the wild. At an estimate, there are only 13 known white lions living in the wild to this day. The remainder live in captivity, mostly at zoos.
They are currently, slowly, being reintroduced into protected areas by the Global White Lion Protection Trust.
What Do White Lions Look Like?
Most people image a lion with golden fur, dark manes, and large, dark eyes. A white lion, on the other hand, looks nothing like this description.
White lions have a coat that is either completely white or a very light variant of the regular fur hue. The color of the fur can range from light blonde to almost purely white.
This pigmentation of the white lion’s fur is inherited from both parents, but it is a recessive feature.
This means that the chances of a hazel-colored lion being born to a hazel-colored lion are greater than the chances of a white lion being birthed by a white lion.
These creatures sometimes have ‘eyeliner,’ which are black patterns around their eyes that give them the illusion of wearing dark makeup, or eyeliner.
These markings make their eyes appear even more striking, especially if their eyes are colored blue.
The most common eye colors for a white lion are light blue or gold.
White lions can also possess black markings on their noses and dark patches behind their ears, among other distinguishing characteristics.
How Big Can White Lions Grow?
At full maturity, male white lions can grow to be 10 feet (3.05 m) long and 4 feet (1.22 m) tall, weighing up to 530 pounds (240.4 kg).
Females, on the other hand, can reach 6 feet (1.83 m) in length and 3.6 feet (1.1 m) in height, weighing up to 400 pounds (181.44 kg).
What Do White Lions Eat?
As you would expect, white lions are carnivores. They primarily eat meat from animals that they hunt down in the wilderness.
Gazelles, zebras, buffaloes, wild hares, tortoises, and wildebeests are among the herbivorous creatures they seek and eat in the wild. Their razor-sharp teeth and claws enable them to hunt and kill their unsuspecting prey.
White lions will hunt in packs, stalking their targets and preparing for the ideal moment to attack.
These creatures traditionally murder their prey through strangulation, and the carcass is then subsequently consumed by the pack at the kill site.
White lions in zoos are typically fed a diet of beef, chicken, rabbit, sheep, and horse. They frequently devour the bones of the chosen animals in addition to the meat.
How Many White Lions Are Left?
There are only about 300 white lions left in the world, according to statistics.
The majority are reared, born, and raised in captivity, and, sadly, those found in the wild are very nearly extinct.
Several white lions are currently born and bred in captivity in zoos all over the world, but there aren’t nearly as many existing white lions left in the world as there used to be.
As previously mentioned, there are only known to be 13 wild white lions left in existence.
How Rare Is A White Lion?
White lions are incredibly rare for a number of reasons.
To begin with, white lions are extremely rare because a white lion cub requires both the parents, the mating female and the male, to have the rare recessive gene that gives the white lion its coloring.
It is extraordinarily unlikely that both lions will have this gene, which is why these pale-colored lions are so unique.
It is an ongoing cycle: since it is so rare for a lion cub to receive the white lion gene, they will be unable to give the gene to their offspring.
Unless they are specifically bred in captivity, the likelihood of a white lion cub being born is highly unlikely.
Even if two white lions mate, it is still not 100% certain that they will have white lion cubs.
Are White Lions Friendly?
White lions have been demonstrated to have a curious disposition, and can be very pleasant and affectionate when raised in captivity, such as in zoos.
From an early age, they are trained how to interact with human beings, and are accustomed to being caressed and rubbed. They are often friendly to others as a result of this.
However, if you were to approach a white lion in the wild, you may not get such a warming welcome.
Lions are natural predators, and since wild animals do not have much experience with interacting with humans, they may view you as their next meal.
In short, it is probably a good idea to steer away from white lions if possible.
How Much Does A White Lion Cost?
In general, a typical lion cub will cost anything from $1,500 to $15,000.
A white lion cub, on the other hand, is far more valuable, and therefore, is a lot more expensive. Since these animals are so rare, a white lion cub can reach up to a whopping $140,000.
Anyone with a spare million dollars or so to invest can purchase their own white lion as a pet, but it is frowned upon due to the creature’s rarity.
At this time, zoos are desperately trying to breed these animals in order to preserve them.
Are White Lions Going Extinct?
Yes. Sadly, white lions are going extinct.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, white lions are now classified as vulnerable.
Back in 2015, the South African conservation authorities advocated to downgrade all lions’ conservation category to Least Concern.
White lions would be in grave danger of going extinct in the wild if this were to happen. Unfortunately, given that there are only less than 20 white lions in the wild, this is a distinct possibility in the future years.
The Global White Lion Protection Trust is now working to change the status of the species to Endangered.
Are White Lions Albino?
Despite popular belief, white lions are not albino. They are leucistic.
This uncommon gene enables white lions to have less melanin – a dark pigment that affects skin, eyes, and hair/fur – and other pigments than non-leucistic animals.
The pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes are absent, or partially absent, in leucism.
Leucism is caused by a color inhibitor gene that causes the white lion to lose darker pigmentation in specific regions while keeping the pigmentation in their eyes, nose, and ears.
White lions have the usual pigment evident in their eyes, which is a vivid blue or golden color, and black coloring on their noses.
In comparison, albino lions will have a red tone to their eyes and noses, demonstrating the lack of pigmentation.
White lions are majestic, rare, and incredibly beautiful. If you have ever seen one with your very own eyes, at a wildlife reserve or a zoo, you will know how breathtaking it can be to witness one in the flesh.
It is incredibly heartbreaking that, if changes are not made soon, this proud species may become extinct in the foreseeable future.
With only less than 300 white lions left in the world, we should be doing all we can to protect this special species.
If you wish to join the fight in saving these amazing animals, we recommend that you research the Global White Lion Protection Trust, and donate if you can.
We hope that you found this article on white lions useful and informative.