Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is celebrating the birth of three white lion cubs this week.
With only 300 in existence globally, white lions are considered the rarest in the world, according to a release.
The big cats lack national and international legislative protection, and are victims of habitat encroachment, poaching and human-wildlife conflict. They are unique to one endemic region on the globe, the UNESCO Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere region in South Africa, the release stated. They hold significant conservation value, carrying a unique genetic marker, which continues to occur and is an important part of the biodiversity of the region.
“White lions need increased protection in their endemic habitat and without it, they will soon face extinction. As we create more awareness to the issue, we hope CITES, the IUCN and the South African government will list the white lion as a critically endangered sub-population and increase protection to help secure their future," said Kristy Morcom, the zoo’s director of media relations.
The cubs are currently in the facility’s Baby Animal Nursery, receiving around-the-clock care by Wildlife World’s hand-raising team and veterinarians to ensure their survival.
The youngsters enjoy bottles of formula several times a day and over the next few weeks, they will begin the transition to include meat in their diet.
With more than 600 species and 6,000 animals on display, there are always new arrivals at Wildlife World. Other babies on display include jaguar cubs, a leopard cub, baby warthogs, a tapir, a giraffe, baby sable antelope, endangered addax, Arabian oryx and others throughout the 100-acre park.
Wildlife World’s keepers and veterinarians have raised dozens of species of wild and endangered animals over the past quarter century, the release stated.
The zoo strives to maximize genetic diversity in the zoological population with its breeding programs.
As a USDA-licensed private institution accredited by the Zoological Association of America and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums, Wildlife World does not receive taxpayer funding. No tax dollars have ever been spent to build or operate Wildlife World in its nearly 37-year history, the release stated.
The zoo, 16501 W. Northern Ave., is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with last admission is at 4:30 p.m. Aquarium hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit wildlifeworld.com or call 623-935-9453 or follow @ZooWildlife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
For more information about white lions, visit whitelions.org.
The Global White Lion Protection Trust is a registered nonprofit situated in a protected area of endemic bushveld in the Greater Timbavati, South Africa. It has successfully reintroduced white lions into their natural habitat in a carefully phased, ground-breaking scientific program that integrates them with wild golden lions.
Thanks to the trust’s efforts, several prides now roam freely in their ancestral heritage lands.