Lion twins share a playful birthday

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Jake and Mishka celebrating their 13th birthday. Photo: Nathan Schmidt

THE National Zoo and Aquarium is celebrating the birthdays of Jake and Mishka, the zoo’s resident white lion twins, who turn 13 today (October 23).

Unwrapping their gifts of meat and soft toys to a crowd of school children and young families this morning, the twins were as playful and boisterous as they were mischievous.

“Mishka is an amazingly playful cat,” says Bec Scott, the zoo’s wildlife and grounds manager.

“She’s really cheeky [and] she sometimes stirs her brother up.”

Jake, on the other hand, is the more serious of the pair, taking on his role as king of the pen, Bec says. 

Jake and Mishka originate from the same litter and emigrated in 2008 from South Africa where they are “technically” extinct, says Bec.

While their stark white fur might make them the star of the show, the twins are neither white nor albino, says Bec. Instead, they have a condition known as Leucism whereby their fur lacks pigmentation. 

It would be more accurate to call them blonde lions, rather than white, she says.

Lions in captivity can live for more than 20 years, according to Bec.

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