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Rare White Lion Arrives In San Diego County

Video by Katie Schoolov

Three lions, including a rare white lion, will make their home at the Lions, Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine.

Three lions, including a rare white lion, will make their home at the Lions, Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine.

Twelve-year-old Lufuno (Louie) arrived in San Diego along with his sisters, Arusha and Zulu.

White lions, different from albinos, are a color mutation only found in one region of South Africa. There are fewer than 13 white lions like Louie left in the wild and only hundreds in captivity.

Bobbi Brink, founder and director of Lions, Tigers & Bears, said in the past, the three siblings were forced to perform in live shows for a circus.

Photo caption:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The photo shows white lion Louie at his new home at Lions, Tigers & Bears in San Diego, April 6, 2017.

"They're trained animals, they're from the entertainment," she said. "They've done movies. They've been circus animals. They've been very well cared for, and the owner came to me a while ago and wanted me to take them. I told him I couldn't because we didn't have the habitat. We didn't have the space for them ."

RELATED: Key Facts About The White Lion

But now, the sanctuary is building a $350,000 three-plus acre habitat where Louie and his sisters will live. In exchange, the owner signed a contract stating he will never again acquire exotic animals. He will also get visitation rights.

Lions, Tigers & Bears is a 94-acre no kill, no breed, no sell sanctuary with more than 60 rescued animals. Every animal costs $10,000 per year to care for, including food and medical needs. The sanctuary's total operating cost is about $1 million each year. It is one of only a few globally-accredited exotic animal sanctuaries in the country.

"Every animal that we take is for life, so we've got to be prepared to provide for that animal for their life: big cats, 20 years, bears, 30 years, and we survive solely on donations and volunteer work."

The public can visit Lions, Tigers & Bears by appointment Wednesday through Saturday, but Louie and his sisters will not make their debut until the sanctuary's annual fundraiser on May 20.

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