26 October 2020

The zoo's white lions, Jake and Mischka, turn 13

| Dominic Giannini
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Jake and Mischka

White lions Jake and Mischka have turned 13. Photo: National Zoo & Aquarium. Photo: Supplied.

The National Zoo and Aquarium’s two white lions turned 13 on Friday (23 October) and were lucky enough to celebrate with a box of roar meat instead of the usual birthday cake.

Teenage siblings Jake and Mischka first called the zoo home in 2008, arriving from South Africa just after their first birthday, having been born in the same litter.

While the mane man dug in, both lions were also happy enough to play with their presents and box they came in.

White lions are incredibly rare, with only around a dozen left in the wild and 300 in captivity around the world. They are often mistaken for albino lions but actually have leucism, a recessive gene which makes them appear more blonde.

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“White lions are considered extinct in the wild, and we have them here at the zoo to help educate people on conservation and the impact humans have on white lions,” the zoo’s wildlife and grounds manager Bec Scott said.

White lions usually live to their mid-to-late teens, and up to their mid-20s in captivity.

Since re-opening on the June long weekend, Ms Scott says the zoo has seen an increased number of people coming through, despite not being able to entertain overseas tourists.

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Numbers are expected to continue to increase over the summer as Canberrans and their regional neighbours look for local activities during school holidays in lieu of travelling during a pandemic.

The zoo is ready to welcome all animal lovers as long as social distancing is maintained.

For visiting hours and prices, visit The National Zoo & Aquarium.

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