A pair of young, cuddly looking white lions made their debut at the Toronto Zoo on Friday.

A male and a female cub were on display while a third lion, a female, is expected to become part of the exhibition later in the year.

The lions are native to the Timbavati region of South Africa, and came to Toronto thanks to a breeding program there. They are extremely rare and their white colour is a result of a genetic rarity endemic to the region.

“People just love to see them,” said the zoo’s conservation director Dr. Bill Rapley. “With their white colour, they're like the spirit bear."

The two lions on display Friday are nine and 10 months old and it’s hoped the zoo will be able to breed them when they reach maturity.

“The cubs will be spectacular,” said Rapley. “People will love them."

The lions are not yet named and the zoo is considering holding a public naming contest.

White lions are extremely rare and were once even thought to be extinct.

VIDEO White Lions Make Toronto Zoo Debut

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