White lions born to tawny parents at a Ho Chi Minh City park
A lion at a Ho Chi Minh city park has given birth to two pure white cubs, the rarest lions on earth.
News website VnExpress Thursday reported that the parent lions were among 12 that Dong Duong Zoo Service Company brought from South Africa to the Cu Chi Water Park on the outskirts of the city in November, 2011.
Nguyen Huu Truc, director of the park's zoo, said the lions, between 12 and 14 months old at the time, lived together until last year, when two pairs were separated so they could mate.
"We didn't expect that one pair would deliver white lions," Truc said.
The pair that gave birth to the white lions were both regular non-white lions. Three of the five cubs were also normal.
White lions are not albinos but the coloration is caused by a recessive gene shared by both parents, and they can vary from blonde to near-white.
Studies have found that 80 percent of white lions cannot make it to adulthood, partly due to their high visibility.
A large number of white lions now live in zoos due to the widespread belief that they cannot survive in the wild. The first pride was brought back to the wild in 2009 under international ethical reintroduction programs.
Bui Hong Thuy, director of Dong Duong Company, said the chance of two white lions producing white cubs was 50 percent.
In June last year, five white cubs were born in Ukraine: three in a safari park and two in a zoo. All were from normal lion parents.
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