There’s no question that cats are one of the most adorable creatures on the planet. These furry ones may be known to be aloof and moody but all cat lovers would agree that inside them (even the grouchy ones) is just a bright-eyed little kitten who wants some treats and fun. Yet who would have thought that this also goes with the king of the jungle, the biggest cat of them all? Lions, with their majestic manes and powerful figure, is probably the last kind of felines you’d picture playing around with a ball. But it turns out that these noble-looking carnivores also love toys as much as their domesticated little cousins. Don’t believe me?
Meet Triton- a beautiful, eleven-year-old lion residing at the Johannesburg Zoo. This fully-grown adult lion would instantly turn into a cute playful cub whenever his zookeeper, Anges Maluleke, tosses his special ball. He’d move it around with his giant paws, chase it as fast as he can, and even playfully chew it just as how a house cat would! But his playfulness isn’t the only thing that makes him special.
While he may appear like a normal lion, he was born with a rare color mutation. Triton is one of the rare white lions first sited in 1938. Don’t get them mixed up with albino lions, though, as they don’t share the same genes that make them appear lighter. And unlike albino lions, their fur color doesn’t’ affect their ability to survive out in the wild.
Games like this actually have a very important role in a lion’s development. Young cubs have to play so they’ll learn how to stalk, hunt, and fight. And growing up in a zoo, Triton enjoys all sorts of games that prepare him for that. But this ball game is especially close to his heart.
In the video below, you’ll even see Triton’s eyes light up the moment he sees his ball. He’d let out an eager roar and jump in excitement.
You don’t get to see this every day- a powerful beast so innocently playing a ball with all his might. Triton just proves the point that any cats, no matter how ferocious they look like, are still kittens on the inside that are ready to pounce and have fun.