Every youngster loves to play in the mud, and it’s no different for these rascally lion cubs. But they’re going to give their mum an extra headache, because three of the four new siblings are ultra-rare white lions… and getting the dirt out of their creamy fur is going to require a lot of licking.

These extraordinary pictures are the first-ever photographs of new-born white lions in the wild. They are found in just one place on Earth, the Greater Timbavati region in South Africa, where just 13 remain — and that total includes these cubs.

It’s serious work, being so young, so rare and so cute. But these boisterous characters have got their paws full exploring and practising their play-fighting. So while the older members of the pride keep a watch for danger, the cubs have fun.

But it is not known which male is the father because the cubs are not albinos but owe their remarkable colouring to a genetic twist, which many Timbavati lions carry. The leucism pigment gene gives them blue or green-grey eyes instead of brown, and a pelt that remains white all their lives. Just like a human family trait, the recessive gene can lie dormant for generations and then reappear — so any of the tawny males could have fathered these cubs. It is even possible for two brown adults to have a litter of white cubs — but only if they are Timbavati lions.

The indigenous Shangaan tribe has known about the white lions for centuries, and their medicine men traditionally believe them to be animal angels. One legend says they were the first creatures to be created by the gods — and when life becomes extinct the roar of the white lions will be the last sound on Earth… see more

source: dailymail UK