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ANIMAL

Newborn white lion cubs are pride of the circus

Four white lions born into the Krone Circus during its stop in Magdeburg yesterday find themselves in a Germany reliving a decades-old fight over exotic animals displayed for profit.

Newborn white lion cubs are pride of the circus
Photo:DPA

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The three male and one female cubs are the latest addition to the tribe of rare big cats native to the Timbavati region of South Africa.

Eight-year-old mother Princess took an instant dislike to her offspring's celebrity, growling as she moved to shield them from photographers' cameras.

A genetic mutation is responsible for the coloration of the ultra-rare felines, which aren't currently protected because they don't belong to a separate species from other African lions.

Princess and 12-year-old father King Tonga, are both also white.

PHOTO GALLERY: White lion cubs born in circus

Mother Princess licks lion cub. Photo: DPA

They were already the proud parents of a litter of six cubs born in 2012 in Konstanz. The circus was criticized at the time by animal rights activists for bringing the pregnant mother on the road.

Animal rights organisation PETA held demonstrations earlier this week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of escaped circus elephant Tyke under a hail of police bullets in Hawaii.

PETA activists form the shape of an elephant in anti-circus protest at Berlin's Brandenburger Tor. Photo:DPA

Underwear-clad activists formed the shape of an elephant on the pavement in front of the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin.

Campaigners also presented a petition with 600,000 signatures to the Federal Food and Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday calling for a ban on wild animals being kept in circuses.

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PANDAS

Double trouble: Berlin’s panda twins get set for public debut

Two panda cubs born at Berlin Zoo last year charmed local media on Wednesday, a day before their debut in front of the general public.

Double trouble: Berlin's panda twins get set for public debut
The two panda cubs playing in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Five-month-old males Meng Xiang and Meng Yuan, whose names mean “long-awaited dream” and “dream come true”, were seen climbing over boulders as they explored their enclosure, watched by their mother Meng Meng and members of the press

The two cuddly cubs were the first pandas to be born in a German zoo, and have been nicknamed “Pit” and “Paule” by their carers.

The births were particularly rare as it is notoriously hard to breed pandas.

The zoo is expecting a surge in visitors when the pandas are put on public display for the first time on Thursday.

Zoo directors are planning to open more ticket desks to avoid long queues, and have arranged for security personnel to guard the panda enclosure.

Alongside their parents Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, the twins are the only pandas currently visible in Germany.

Meng Yuan and Meng Xiang being taken into their enclosure for the first time. Photo: DPA

READ ALSO: Boy oh boy! Two male pandas make debut at Berlin zoo

On loan from China, the panda couple had arrived in Berlin in June 2017 to great fanfare.

Famed for its “panda diplomacy”, China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries as a symbol of close relations.

Berlin Zoo pays $15 million (13.4 million euros) for a 15-year contract to host the two adult pandas, with most of the money going towards a conservation and breeding research programme in China.

While the cubs were born in Berlin, they remain Chinese and must be returned to China within four years after they have been weaned.

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