LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The white lion cub at Lufkin's Ellen Trout Zoo has a new name.
Gordon Henley, the director of the Ellen Trout Zoo, said Wednesday that 1,000 people have already voted in the survey to pick a name for the male lion cub, which was born on July 15.
"Our white African lion cub has a name! Wow, a thousand votes came pouring in really quickly," Henley said. "Ashur, meaning precious, won the online vote yesterday! Thank you to everyone who voted. The vote was very close between all the name options. Ashur won with 216 votes which is about 19 percent of the total votes."
Henley said Ashur is with his mother and doing very well. He added that as soon as the pride - Ashur, Adia, and Mashaka - comes together, the cub will make his public debut.
The lion club is now almost two weeks old, and his eyes have opened.
When the zoo staff gave the cub his first medical exam on July 21, he weighed 4.5 pounds, according to the zoo's Facebook page.
Henley said they had been anxiously awaiting the cub's birth for the past 110 days. He also said that the baby is the mother's second cub, and although they expected a litter of two or three cubs, they never expected a white lion.
"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.