Zookeepers in Texas got a surprise last week when they realized one of their African lions had given birth to a rare white cub.
Employees at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin kept watch over pregnant African lion Adia for 110 days before they found her 4.5-pound cub around 3:30 p.m. on July 15.
"It was a big surprise to see that the cub is white," zoo officials said in a news release.
The cub is the second African lion to be born at the Ellen Trout Zoo in about 40 years, the Lufkin Daily News reported. It is the zoo's first white lion.
"Everyone at the Ellen Trout Zoo is thrilled at the birth and are happy mother and cub appear to be doing well," zoo officials said.
According to records from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Lion Species Survival Plan, white cubs are rarely born in zoos that are part of the program. One participating zoo did report a white cub, although its colors transformed to the normal gold of other African lions when it was six months old.
It was not immediately clear whether the same thing would happen with Adia's cub.
The birth marks Adia's second. Her first cub, Sango, was born four years ago. Zookeepers reared the cub after Adia failed to produce milk.
"This time, everything went well and mother and cub appear to be doing fine," zoo officials said. "Since this is her first experience rearing the cub, zoo staffers have been careful around her to make sure she is not distracted from her motherly duties."
The latest birth was the result of a breeding recommendation from the Lion Species Survival Plan, the Lufkin Daily News reported.
"The plan is designed to ensure the sustainability of captive zoo populations of animals while maintaining the desired level of genetic variability within the species," the newspaper reported.