7 Fun Facts About White Lions

Are White Lions Real? All about White lions: their description, diet, habitat, threats and more.
Facts About White Lions

A general query that we received the most and found pretty amusing is: Are facts about white lions real? Yes, white lions belong to the general classification of Panthera Leon. White lions are not albinos; they only lack their usual coloration due to a rare mutation that results in reduced pigmentation. Because of their uniqueness and majestic appearance, they are considered sacred beings by the South African tribes. Sadly, they have also been hunted down to extinction in the wild. However, white lions are now being reintroduced within protected areas suitable as white lions habitat by the Global White Lion Protection Trust.

1. General facts about White lions

Here we have some interesting facts about White Lions. The white lions are mammals belonging to the order Carnivora with average lifespan of 18 years. The males can be up to 10ft long and 4ft high, while the females are around 6ft long and 3.6ft high. The male white lions can weigh up to 530 pounds, while the female white lions can weigh around 400 pounds. The white lions prey on hoofed animals, small birds, and even reptiles. Their natural habitat is the Savannah, woodlands, and deserts. White lions belong to the vulnerable conservation status, and their population is about 100 in captivity and 13 in the wild. Another one of fun facts about the white lions is that they symbolize pride and leadership within the communities of the Timbavati region.

2. Description of the White lions

White lions have a rare genetic trait that is recessive and causes white discoloration of their skin. They are different from the albino lions that lack pigmentation as white lions only have a lighter pigmentation. The albino lions usually tend to have red or pink colors in their eyes and on their noses. Unlike the albinos, white lions have gold or blue eyes, dark patches behind their ears, blackish features on their noses, and an “eyeliner” feature. Male white lions tend to have blond, white, or pale hair in their tales and manes. This one of interesting facts about White Lions.

3. White lions habitat

As mentioned previously about white lions habitat, the white lions usually live in the Savannah, desert lands, and the woodlands. These lions are indigenous to the Greater Timbavati region situated in Southern Africa. After the unfortunate hunting that led to the extinction, these white lions were reintroduced in the year 2004. They are currently being protected by Central Kruger Park in South Africa. The first white lion cubs were born in 2006 after the ban on trophy hunting around these areas. While Kruger Park witnessed the first births of white lion cubs in 2014. (See Why are zoos bad for animals?)

4. Diets and Behaviors

An obvious one of facts about white lions is that white lions are carnivorous and the major part of their diet consists of herbivorous animals. White lions hunt wild hares, tortoises, gazelles, buffaloes, and wildebeests. They hunt down their prey using sharp claws and teeth. White lions wait patiently for the right time to strike, and after they have killed their prey by strangulation, the pack eats up the carcasses at the site of the kill. 

5. Reproduction and their offspring

Similar to the white tawny lions, white lions reach their sexual maturity at the age of around three to four. Most of these white lions are bred in captivity. The lions in captivity mate once a year, while the lions in the wild mate once in two years. The white lion cubs are born blind and they rely on their mothers for food for about the first two years of their lives. A white lioness usually gives birth to two to four cubs every time.

For the offspring to be white lions, the parent lions will either have to be white lions themselves or carry the recessive gene of the white lions. As this genetic trait is recessive, there are three outcomes in which a white lion is born. If both the parent lions are tawny and carry the recessive allele, there is a 25% chance that a white lion cub is born. If one of the parent lions is a white lion and the other parent is tawny and carries the recessive allele, there is a 50% chance that a white lion cub will be born. If both the parent lions are white, there is a 100% chance the cub born will be a white lion too. This is one of the most interesting facts about white lions and their lineage.

6. White lions as Predators

Many have argued that due to their reduced pigmentation, the white lions are at a disadvantage when compared to tawny lions as they cannot camouflage themselves well in the wild. However, a recent study has shown that the white lions in the wild were able to hide equally as the tawny lions and that they are as much of an apex predator as the latter.

7. Threats to the White lions

Another one of facts about White lions is that they are hunted down for trophies and this has drastically reduced their population. Moreover, there exist programs that wish to breed white lions for profit, and these programs modify their genes posing a threat to white lions. (See How many Animals are there in the World?)

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