LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Exciting news coming from our very own Ellen Trout Zoo who has welcomed the birth of their newest lion cub, but with a rare twist the area has never seen before.
The Ellen Trout Zoo director, Gordon Henley said they were anxiously waiting for the birth of the cub for the last 110 days, but could never have predicted this special outcome.
"With this being her second go around we were expecting maybe two or three, and then they told me it was white," Henley said. "I just couldn't believe it, but it sure is white, it looks like a bunch of cotton balls all rolled up."
Zoo workers agree that this is the rarest birth the zoo has ever seen, but they wouldn't be alone because according to a press release posted today about the birth, there has only been one other white lion cub birth recorded in North America.
"We had no idea what to expect, both parents are normal colored lions," said Celia Falzone, zoo curator. "White coloring is a natural mutation, it does occur in the wild, but it's a recessive genetic trait."
That would mean both parents were carrying this rare gene, and the odds of this occurring are next to impossible.
"I think it's pretty exciting that we had the birth, and that its white, but I hope people are patient about when we let them see it in captivity, we will get the cub out when its ready," Falzone said.
Zoo keepers are being very careful to limit human interaction with the cub because the last time the mother, named Adia, gave birth she wasn't able to care for it herself.
"While she had a cub she didn't have that experience of raising her, she is a new mother and she needs time to figure out what that means," Falzone said.
The zoos top priority is ensuring Adia has the appropriate time and ability to bond with her baby to ensure a lasting relationship.
"As much as I want to go back there and take a look at her, it's so important that we give her enough time," Henley said.
Henley explained that each of the zoo personnel's top priority is the care and well-being of the cub, so until the baby is ready to make its debut it will stay close to its mother's side.
"So far she is doing everything perfect. She's nursing, cleaning, and everything you are supposed to do," Falzone said.
One of the last recorded white lions born changed back to a normal color after just six months, but only time will tell if this little lion will keep the rare colored coat.
"It's important for people to know that this does not mean the cub is albino, it does have pigmentation around its mouth and eyes," Falzone said.
The rare birth marks a first for East Texas and only a second for the nation. There is no timeline for when the cub will be introduced to the public, but it's something everyone is waiting for.