(3-6-22) The Cincinnati Zoo announced that it lost its last white lion this week, Gracious who passed away at 21. The zoo has had white lions since 1998.

From the Cincinnati Zoo

We are sad to share the news that beloved white lion Gracious, the last of her kind to live at the Cincinnati Zoo, was humanely euthanized on Tuesday. At almost 21 years old, she was considered a geriatric animal and, as such, her quality of life was closely monitored. Her health began to decline and when she lost interest in her favorite food, meatballs, her care team knew it was time to say goodbye. She lived five years longer than the median life expectancy for her species, which can be attributed to the special geriatric enrichment, diet, and TLC that she has received from her care team, some of whom had cared for her since she was born. This loss is especially tough for them. Gracious was the daughter of Prosperity, who was brought to the Zoo in 1998 by the famous Siegfried and Roy and died in 2020.

What is a white lion?

White lions are not albinos. Their white color is caused by a recessive trait, called leucism, derived from a less-severe mutation in the same gene that causes albinism, distinct from the gene responsible for white tigers. They vary from blonde to near-white. This coloration does not appear to pose a disadvantage to their survival.

The white lion is a rare color mutation of the lion, specifically the Southern African lion. White lions in the area of Timbavati are thought to have been indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries, although the earliest recorded sighting in this region was in 1938.