This Big Cat Likes To Play Soccer

BarcroftAnimalsPublished: December 19, 201646,130 views
Published: December 19, 2016

For South Africa, 2010 was the year of soccer, something even the animals at the Johannesburg ZOO had felt. The animal that was most excited about the World Cup was Triton, their white lion, who could be seen running around the enclosure with a soccer ball, at the amazement of visitors.

"This year, being 2010, we just thought it would be a good idea to do a soccer-themed behaviour enrichment programme," said the zoo's brand and communications manager, Letta Madlala. "[The programme] is not something new; it's just the angle that's befitting at this point in time."

Triton might have been the most excited about playing with the balls, but the female lions held their own competition. Children and adults alike were enthralled with the vigorous display of agility; even the zookeepers were enchanted.

White lions are uncommon, even in the wild; the Joburg Zoo was the first to breed a white lion cub. Most white lions found in other zoos originate from the Joburg zoo, which highlights the importance of conservation.

White lions are not albinos - their coloring is a genetic mutation. They are a genetic color mutation of African lions native to the Timbavati area, although all but one pride has existed solely in captivity since their first natural wildlife reintroduction in 2009.

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