Timba Masai came to In-Sync Exotics as part of an effort to decrease animal participation in entertainment facilities in Las Vegas. Siegfried & Roy (S&R) Secret Gardens, at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, requested, after visiting our facility, that we adopt Timba Masai and his brother Madiba along with 3 other leopards: Shadow, Ibasa, and Neruda. Timba Masai, affectionately known as Timba, is a male white lion and came from a facility in Africa as a young cub with his two brothers, Madiba, and Freedom in 2014. Timba and his brothers were very well cared for by an entire team of keepers but when Mirage was purchased by Hard Rock Café, the team at Hard Rock felt it best for Timba and friends to live out the rest of their lives at a sanctuary. Unfortunately, Freedom passed away a few years after arriving in Las Vegas. The caretakers felt it would be best after his passing to separate Timba and Madiba. Timba lived by himself but never alone as his brother Madiba was always close by.

White lions’ unique coloring is caused by a rare color mutation specifically found in Southern African Lions; lions that can be traced to the Timbavati region. White lions are not albinos but rather the color is called leucism and caused by an allele found in the same alleles that causes albinism. Surprisingly, it has not posed a disadvantage to their survival in the wild. Most white lions found in the wild are usually found in the Timbavati Nature Reserve; considered their natural habitat. White lions were technically considered extinct between 1992-2004, when Global White Lion Protection Trust achieved the first successful reintroduction into their natural habitat. There have been reports of this mutation occurring in other nature reserves, most notably in Kruger National Park. There have also been reports of this occurring naturally in many zoos across the world. Unfortunately, this color variation led to “backyard” breeders attempting to recreate this unique mutation with inbreeding leading to multiple health issues; most commonly Arnold-Chiari malformation. This malformation causes problems with the brain/skull and spinal cord. Although, white lions were considered “extinct” they are technically a subspecies of the tawny South African Lions (Panthera leo melanochaita) and not considered a species of their own. White lions have pigment visible in their eyes, paw pads, and lips, but we suggest not staring at either of these boys to find that out!

Fortunately, Timba is a healthy and happy boy who enjoys painting, his enrichment boxes, and showing off his grace and might to the neighbors. From day one, Timba has exuded confidence and commanded the enclosure and continues to do so. He also enjoys sunbathing and food! Timba loves to eat and is most active prior to and during dinner. He also spends time “keeping an eye” on his brother from across the hall. We are very honored to be able to care for this beautiful boy. He has already captured quite the number of volunteers’ hearts, “groupies.”

Species: South African Lion
(Panthera leo melanochaita)

Sex: Male
Born: April 14, 2014
Rescued: May 11, 2023
Weight at Rescue: 400+ lbs