Rare Lions In Kent

Kent is now home to two rare white lionesses.

The animals were flown in from South Africa, touching down at Heathrow at around 8am today before being carefully transported to a huge new enclosure at the Big Cat Sanctuary in Smarden, near Ashford.

They will start a new pride with the Sanctuary's current white male, Themba and staff there are hoping to have cubs before toolong.

Lynn Whitnall from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation which runs the Sanctuary said: "White lions are a really beautiful species and we're very honoured to be welcoming these two new arrivals from South Africa. We've chosen these females specifically to add a new genetic stream to the UK."

White lions are not albinos, but are a leucistic colour mutation of the Kruger subspecies of African lion. There are fewer than 300 left alive.

The Big Cat Sanctuary, which is home to more than 40 big cats across 15 different species, has a track record for breeding rare big cats.

They have successfully bred a variety of endangered species such as Sumatran tigers and even the critically endangered Amur leopards.