Best paw forward

Three rare white lion cubs, one male and two female, put their best paw forward when they were presented to the public on Wednesday.

The young lions, born in November last year, were seen exploring their enclosure at the zoo in Mag-deburg, Germany.

Keepers weighed the lion cubs and carried out health checks on the cats, which are rare in the wild.

White lions are uncommon because their white fur is produced by an extremely rare gene which creates a partial loss of pigmentation. This is unlike albinism, as the animals still retain colour in other features. Both parents - even if they themselves are tawny coloured - must carry the rare gene to produce a white cub.

A variant of the tawny African lion, the white lions' fur can vary from blonde to near-white. The animals are thought to be indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2020, with the headline 'Best paw forward'. Print Edition | Subscribe