Poland just got a serious injection of adorableness!
Three white lion cubs were born at owner Andrzej Pabich's zoo in Boryszew last week. The cubs are very rare—Pabich estimates that there are only 90 or so white lions in existence—and he says the trio are lucky to even be alive.
"Luckily the birth went all smoothly," Pabich explained to USA Today. "We had doubts whether it would be all OK: will [their mother] reject them, will she have milk? But all went luckily well in the end. The mother accepted [the cubs], is feeding them and is very caring."
Pabich says white lions can suffer from birth defects that prevent them from giving birth (their white coat comes from a recessive trait) or mothers will often reject their cubs. But 2-year-old Azira "has been patiently feeding and caring for her little ones."
And 3-year-old Sahim, who is also a white lion and the cubs' father, is proving to be quite the protective daddy: Though Sahim is kept away from the mother and cubs for now, he watches over them and "roars at anyone who comes too close to his family."
This is the cubs' father, Sahim, who has awesome people hair:
Like the liliger cubs (that would be 3/4 lion, 1/4 liger) that were born last year, there is controversy swirling around the white lions' birth. BigCatRescue.org quotes a 2011 report by the American Zoological Association saying:
"Breeding practices that increase the physical expression of single rare alleles (i.e., rare genetic traits) through intentional inbreeding, for example intentional breeding to achieve rare color-morphs such as white tigers...has been clearly linked with various abnormal, debilitating, and, at times, lethal, external and internal conditions and characteristics."
Another set of white lion triplets were born at the Zoo de Jurques in France in 2008. Though the zoo's site explains that their mother did not have the maternal instinct to care for them, Bamako, Efia and Jaya have apparently "become wonderful young adults."