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When the White Lions of the Timbavati were discovered in the mid-1970s, they became the subject of much interest and debate. The story of the “White Lions of the Timbavati” has been told by several people, most
notable of whom was Mr. Chris McBride, who published two books about the phenomenon: 'The White Lions of the Timbavati' and 'Operation White Lion'.
Chris was the son of Timbavati member Cyril McBride who at the
time, together with his brother Robert , owned the farm Vlakgezicht. The famous white lions of the Timbavati were first sighted by Cyril McBride’s daughter Lanice van den Heever in October of 1975.
Note: LEUCISMThe white coats possessed by the “White Lions of the Timbavati” were not the product of “albinism” (a relatively common condition resulting from a failure to develop pigment), but from another condition called “leucism”, in which the pelt is white but eyes and skin are pigmented. This rare event (also termed a “chinchilla mutation”) is thought to represent an evolutionary stage in the progressive loss of pigmentation.
The white mutation, which affects two of the pigments involved in coat colouration, is expressed only when two conditions pertain: