Iraqi zoo gives rare glimpse of white lion


BAGHDAD, June 28 (Reuters) - An Iraqi zoo showed off a rare white lion cub to mark the animal's first birthday this week, as officials revealed that they hoped to welcome another of the rare big cats in the coming weeks.

The male lion was born in Baghdad's Al Zawra zoo, the first to be born in the country. Officials said the lion's mother is pregnant again, and are hopeful that the new arrival will also be a white lion.

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Khan, a five-year-old male White Bengal tiger, looks on inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin
Khan, a five-year-old male White Bengal tiger, walks inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin
Newborn white Bengal tiger cub is fed by its mother in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.
Newborn white Bengal tiger cub is fed by its mother in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.
Newborn white Bengal tiger cub is fed by its mother in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Picture taken September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.?
Newborn white Bengal tiger cubs lie in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Picture taken September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY?
Newborn white Bengal tiger cubs lie in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Newborn white Bengal tiger cub is fed by its mother in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.
Newborn white Bengal tiger cub is fed by its mother in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.
Newborn white Bengal tiger cubs lie in a private zoo in Borysew near Lodz, Poland September 22, 2016. Agencja Gazeta/Malgorzata Kujawka/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND.
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"We expect that another birth of a white lion or cub will occur from this mother and father themselves, as they bear the same genes which is whiteness," Seif Taufiq, a lion and tiger trainer at the zoo said.

"God willing, one hundred percent, it will give birth to a white lion or cub," he added.

White lions are a genetic mutation unique to the Timbavati and Kruger National Park areas of southern Africa and became technically extinct for at least 12 years until being reintroduced to the wild in 2004.

There are believed to be fewer than 13 white lions left in the wild and only up to 300 in captivity, according to the Global White Lion Protection trust.

The zoo, whose animal population was decimated during the 2003 war, allows visitors to see the white lion for two hours a day.

(Reporting by Mohammed Kaftan, writing by Mark Hanrahan in London Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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