Eastern Cape, South Africa: Taking wobbly steps, these rare white lion cubs are lucky to be alive.
Their young mother abandoned them just days after they were born at a wildlife reserve in South Africa.
They were then transferred to an Animal Rehabilitation Centre near the eastern coast.
Here professional care is being provided to build up their strength and immunity. There they are fed by a nurse, who always wears a white sweater.
“You will see Zane our vet nurse here, when she feeds them, she always wears a white sweater, a white fleece. The reason for that is their mother is obviously white and we want to integrate them with the mother again, bond them with the mother before we release them, but it’s very important that they don’t get too habituated to humans,” said Johan Joubert, head veterinarian, Shamwari Game Reserve.
They will be weaned off milk at 4 months of age when they will be returned to the reserve where they were born.
They will have minimum human interaction so that they can successfully re-integrate with other white lions.
“For a captive lion to survive in the wild is actually very difficult, because they don’t have a strong instinct like a leopard to hunt, they very often lose that. The only chance we’ve got here to get it right, is to bond them with a wild lion, in this case we are going to take them back to the mother and we must get the bond built again amongst them, they must stay together when we release them and then the mother will teach them to hunt, so we are not going to teach them, the mother must teach them,” said Shamwari Game Reserve’s head veterinarian.
The cubs seem blissfully unaware of the huge task they face in gaining their rightful place in their pride, but they have so many people rooting for them.
The most critical fact, that all of the PR seeking egotists leave out, is that white lions are only created by purposely inbreeding father to daughter, brother to sister, etc. It is a double recession mutation that is forced into existence in nature where pockets of cats who have been isolation begin inbreeding and in captivity where their “owners” selectively inbreed to get the money making white coats. Introducing these genetically imperfect cats back to wild populations would only weaken them at a time when they are in serious threat of extinction by 2020.