The White Lions

White lions are among the rarest and most treasured animals in the world. Rarer still is their survival in the wild. Their white color stands out in Africa’s wild bush country, increasing their risk of being targeted and killed by rival predators and marauding adult male lions.

Used primarily for communication and camouflage, color is one of nature’s most dependable defenses. White lions lose the ability to blend in to their surroundings, exposing them to other predators as well as jeopardizing their own ability to hunt. Overcoming their heightened visibility may be the greatest challenge young white cubs face. Often mistaken for albinos, white lions actually do have some pigmentation and dark eyes. They are leucistic animals, produced by the mating of two tawny lions that both carry a recessive gene for white coat color. Their ghostly white color is both a blessing and a curse, earning them a mythical status and a unique vulnerability.

Watch a preview of The White Lions:

Only three white cubs have reached adulthood in the wilds of South Africa since white lions were first documented there in 1975. Now, two white cubs, sisters, have beaten the odds, surviving all the challenges of their youth with the help of two remarkable lionesses—their mother, Matimba, and their aunt, Khanya. Without an adult male lion to protect their small pride, Matimba and Khanya must rely solely on their own knowledge, strength and courage to protect their family.
Follow Nature as it tracks these two white cubs as they struggle to survive the dangers they are faced with in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The White Lions premiered May 9, 2012.

  • Catherine H

    I am VERY much looking forward to this new episode! The info above says there is no adult male for protection–so I will be watching +enjoying the strength of two obviously amazing women(lionesses) as they raise their precious family, under some obviously impossible odds. CAN’T WAIT!! I love having “Nature” in my home every week–new episode, or repeat!

  • Mellisa

    I can’t wait for it to come out! It sounds great.

  • Maurice

    The WHite Lions have absolutely no camouflage problems – it has been proven many times over that they are excellent hunter in daylight and night time. The camouflage excuse is used by HUMANS who are invested in removing the White Lions from the wild for commercial purposes…that is selling them in high demands to zoos, and having them as shooting targets for the trophy hunting industry in South Africa.
    Inform yourself:

  • Marilyn

    I’m looking forward to seeing this show. Thank goodness for people like Siegfried & Roy who work to save this wonderful species of white lions.

  • Christine

    Just as wonderful as the promos promised. I must say that the mother of the white cubs and the other mother in the pride were amazing at securing food! A water buffalo, a zebra AND a giraff all in what seems like a matter of days. I’m grateful that the hunt & kill sequences are well done, downplaying the difficult situation for children to watch but always pointing out how the mothers were training their cubs in hunting, hiding & pride communication. The music was perfect too. Just amazing.

  • Kathleen McSwain

    I just finished watching the White Lions. It was so touching, so enigmatic, so intense, so educational!! It intensified my desire to visit South Africa. That trip is first on my bucket list. The photography is outstanding, I felt as though I was right there witnessing everything in person. I hope that these wonderful lions are followed. Their story has touched my heart!

  • bill

    what is the name of the group providing music throughout the program

  • Katherine Wright

    Extraordinary episode.
    Is there somewhere we can log on to continue following this unique family?

  • Liane

    Great show. Just watched it tonight, as usual Nature puts out a excellent program about the natural world. Have never been let down.

  • Kevin

    Stunning episode…Stunning. I plan on watching this one again. So sad when the cub died.

  • Vega Fiore

    A must have for anyone concerned about the way of life and its many oddities which should be accepted rather than neglected. Brilliant.

  • Excellinkus

    I just caught the part where one of the white cubs had a painful seizure and died. Very sad.

    What caused the seizure? Was it some kind of neurological disorder?

  • Valerie & Bob M.

    We are incredibly proud and happy to finally see Lianne and Will Steenkamp’s long passion for the white lions story come to PBS. We encourage everyone to see this captivating episode of “Nature”. We also look forward to seeing more of their work and would love to hear about the bush lifestyle necessary to produce this standard of quality programming. Keep up the good work!

  • Sharon A

    Really enjoyed this episode!

  • Lisa

    I really enjoyed the episode tonight and will be checking periodically to see if any updates on their progress is recorded, Thank you for bringing this to the rest of the world

  • James

    Prior episode on Namibian Desert Lions pairs very well with this episode.

  • Naomi

    Thank you for this stunning episode. Matimba and her white cubs, and their aunt, Khanya and her two cubs, are amazing. I am beyond impressed with Matimba and Khanya’s ability to take care of their cubs against the perils of hyenas, leopards, starvation, and nomadic male lions. The photography and sound are very well done, and the editing is excellent. My neighbors are probably wondering about me, as the incident after the vervet monkey’s warning caused me to loudly yell out my own warning because I was so engrossed in the show, and enraptured by the small lion pride. I hope there will be a way for myself, and other viewers, to learn more about the continuing lives of Matimba, Khanya, and their children.

    I have a few questions. How did Matimba and Khanya come to be alone with their cubs? What happened to their mother/sisters/aunts/cousins? How long ago were the white cubs born? And, are the previous while lions known to have made it to adulthood in the wild male, or female?

    Again, thank you for another quality Nature episode. I have pre-ordered the DVD of this show.

  • Linda

    As others have above, I just want to request follow ups on these white females, their mother, and aunt. Thanks for still filling with me with wonder of the natural.

  • Carol

    Excellinkus says:
    May 10, 2012 at 12:11 am

    “I just caught the part where one of the white cubs had a painful seizure and died. Very sad.
    What caused the seizure? Was it some kind of neurological disorder?”

    Actually, it was one of the male cubs that got hurt during an attack by marauding males & he subsequently died of his injuries.

  • Chaplain Shipman

    I love the nature programs! They are extremely informative and entertaining! Keep up the good work!

  • bell

    i just watched its was so beautiful

  • John

    My wife and I enjoyed this program very much. We also enjoyed the sound track. Who produced the sound track, and is it available for purchase?

  • Christina

    Saw and loved this show! Recalled happy memories of recent safari in Tanzania. Anyone know the name of the birds that were featured – the one with the hopping mating ritual? I seem to recall it started with an ‘h’. Thanks and enjoy!

  • Christina

    Found the bird name by watching the full episode: red-crested korhaan. Thanks!

  • Rebecca

    My family and I are LOVING this episode!! So beautifully produced. My son loves the music. Can anyone guide us to where we might purchase the soundtrack or music very similar? Thank you!

  • peggy m Spates

    I would love to see one film about lions where cubs are not attacked and mauled to death by adult males from other prides…I know I suffer from a BAMBI complex but it breaks my heart knowing that the lion population is down by 90%…from 500,000 in the early 60s to 20,000 now in AFrica…..habitat loss, white hunters, black farmers protecting their cows, sheiks who love animal heads on their walls…..etc etc….George Adamson must be rolling over in his grave. I wonder how much the government of S. Africa pays its wildlife protectors each year to prevent poaching and the sale of animals to zoos……Thanks for NATURES wonderful programs. Peggy Spates

  • Cory C.

    This was truly fantastic… My 6 year old and I watched it twice… He loved it… Thanks

  • Imesh Indeevara

    White Lions Are Very Funny Animals. They Are Very Cute.

  • Monyeom

    I just watched this episode for the seconds time. How can I hear more about the pride and their current status?

  • Bettina, Denmark

    What a great episode! I really loves the story, the telling, the music and the whole setup of the program.

    I am too very interested in knowing what happened after this? Are they all still alive?

    That is the only downfall with these amazing big cat episodes! Every time, every bloody time, I get so invested in the story and the animals that I use hours online trying to secure some knowledge on how they are doing and if they are still alive and so on.I even went so far as to find the names of some of the people working in one of these reserves and emailing them asking, because I could not locate anything. I did that with a snow leopard episode aswell, writing to some park in siberia! Now, i probably sound totally crazy, lol, but I am act quite normal – i just get so invested in the animals, that it bothers me that I dont know for sure they are alive and well.

    I wish the people making these shows would try to accomodate this better, with posting at least 1-2 viable , traceable updates online about the animals after filming. Surely I am not the only one rly wanting to know how they are doing!

    So pls! Any information would be lovely and if there is any way of making some sort of update system on your shows that would be great, so one could go to your webpage like once a month and tjeck for updates on the amazing animals we see in these programs!That would also bring a lot of traffic to your webpages – which can then lead to profit, so surely there must be some way of arranging this.

    Thanks for all the great shows!

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