2 rare white lion cubs newly on display at Mexican zoo

2 rare white lion cubs newly on display at Mexican zoo

(Rebecca Blackwell, AP Photo)

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TLAXCALA, Mexico (AP) — A zoo in central Mexico is growing its population of rare white lions with hopes of eventually establishing a sanctuary featuring the animals.

The Altiplano Zoo in Tlaxcala, about two hours east of Mexico City, recently began publicly showing two white lion cubs that were born in March.

Just about a dozen white lions remain in the wild, according to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, based in South Africa, though several hundred are held in zoos around the world, including several in Mexico. They are not albinos, but have coloration that results from a genetic rarity.

The Tlaxcala Zoo, run by the state government, has five other white lions, including three adults and a cub born last year.

Cesar Toriz, the zoo's director, says the cubs' mother rejected them so they had to be bottle fed formula for their first few months. They were the second litter of white lions for Miztli and Thonatiu, the parents, who are white lions themselves.

Toriz says the cubs are gaining weight — now about 44 pounds and 23 inches long — and eat chicken and milk.

The zoo is holding a naming contest for them and Toriz hopes that in a few years they can find them mates.

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