Belgrade

Belgrade's Creatures: White Lions

more than a year ago

For two decades, ever since he had become manager of the Belgrade Zoo, Mr Vuk Bojovic had dreamed of getting a pair of cheetahs. Although he knew that the zoo would likely never have adequate funding to buy them, he nevertheless had an enclosure built that would be suitable for such animals. He contacted many zoos around the world, offering different modes of exchange, and tried in various other ways to bring  these rare and precious animals to the Belgrade Zoo - but to no avail. However, his optimism paid off when he a man called Nik Anicic, a Serb who had been living and working in South Africa for some time. Mr Anicic quickly promised to present Belgrade with a pair of cheetahs cubs, and a few short months later, on 10 December 2005, his promise was fulfilled with the arrival of two five-month old cheetahs from a zoo in Johannesburg. And with the cheetahs arrived an even rarer gift: a pair of young white lions - of which only some 200 are known to exist in the world.

The benefactor, Mr Anicic, had only one request: that his name is not publicly announced, because he did not want it to look like he was promoting himself 
[editor's note: we assume this request has since been lifted]. He did it, he said, for the sake of Belgrade zoo and the City of Belgrade. He did not even want to reveal the amount of money he paid for the animals, their transportation or the fee of Mr Martin Krog, the man who acompanied the animals and who had been taking care of the lions, called Shumba and Wambo, in Kruger Park from their birth. Along with the lions Mr Krog brought the necessary vitamins for their growth and development, explained how they should be fed, and he spent several days in Belgrade until the lions were fully adapted to the new environment.

It is the intention of the Belgrade zoo to exhibit even more white animal species, in order to symbolically promote the ‘colour of the city’ (in Serbian, Beograd /Belgrade means ‘white city’). This goal was furthered in recent months with the birth of six new white lion cubs from two separate litters. An exceedingly rare event, the births were covered in the media around the world, and the lions have become the zoo's greatest attractions.

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