(quick links to full-size images: 1 2 3)
(hint, I made a similar thing about white tigers)
Ah, finally finished! It’s kind of wordy, I know .-.
First, a short summary:
- not a separate species (members of Panthera leo)
- not a separate subspecies (members of P. leo krugeri)
- not regarded as a separate conservation unit
- not a natural population (bred in captivity)
- not healthy (bred from only a few individuals through inbreeding)
- not “extinct from the wild” (never even existed as a wild population)
To prove that I’m not just making this stuff up, I’ll have you know that AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) prohibits intentional breeding of white lions. You can read more about it in this AZA paper, which can be found on their list of board-approved policies. You can also take a look at this study, which describes a sick white lion cub, born with defects that had only been documented in domestic cats up to that point.
Since I know most of you aren’t going to click those links, let me summarize the AZA paper for you, along with some quotes from the paper:”Breeding practices that increase the phenotypic expression of single rare alleles through inbreeding cause abnormal or aberrant external and internal conditions and characteristics.”
- also a problem from a population management & conservation perspective
- zoos are allowed to rescue such animals if they properly educate the public about the adverse effects of such breeding practices
- “Of greater concern, in some cases, there exists the misconception that these unusual color morphs, or other phenotypic aberrations, may represent a separate endangered species in need of conservation”.
- snakes with lack of pigmentation are prone to neurological issues
- white tigers are all crosseyed
- strabismus is common in Siamese cats, albino mink, albino ferrets…
- double merle dogs are often deaf and/or blind, sometimes they are born without eyes
- the deformities described in that white lion cub are a sign of inbreeding in domestic cats and dogs (vascular ring anomaly around the trachea & esophagus)
- other deformities linked with albinism & leucism include changes in cranial structure, cleft palate, weak immune system…
- “Indeed, the very rarity of the traits in natural populations is itself strong evidence that they have deleterious consequences.”
I’m going to stop now and save my rants about the “Global White Lion Trust” for another post. It’s probably going to be a bunch of screenshots from their website with my remarks written on top. For now, all I’m going to say is: DON’T GIVE THOSE PEOPLE MONEY. They’re liars. And idiots. What they’re doing is harmful, not helpful.
GUYS. I will be referencing all white lion questions to this from now on. Because this, along with the white tiger infographic made by the same person are both fantastic explanations to these color morphs. For real, look over every inch of this.