• Saturday, May 25, 2024

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London Zoo welcomes three endangered Asiatic lion cubs

Asiatic lions are now found only in the Gir Forest in Gujarat, India.

The lion cubs were born to seven-year-old mum, Arya, and 14-year-old dad Bhanu (Photo: London Zoo)

By: Pramod Thomas

LONDON ZOO has recently welcomed three Asiatic lion cubs from an endangered subspecies.

Born to seven-year-old mum, Arya, and 14-year-old dad Bhanu, these lion cubs arrived on 13 March. Their parents are residents of the zoo and integral members of its international conservation breeding programme, according to a statement.

Asiatic lions are now found only in the Gir Forest in Gujarat, India. Recent population estimates suggest that only 600 to 700 such lions remain in the wild, and due to their reliance on just one habitat, they are particularly vulnerable to a disease outbreak or natural disaster.

Kathryn Sanders, head big cat keeper at the zoo, said, “We are over the moon to be able to share the amazing news that we’ve had three endangered Asiatic lion cubs born at London Zoo.

“Their arrival is not only hugely exciting for all of us here at London Zoo, but is a huge boost for the conservation breeding programme for these endangered big cats.

“Arya is proving to be a doting mum to her three cubs, and we’ve been able to observe some heartwarming moments via our hidden cubcam -from their first feed to their first steps. They’re getting stronger every day and we’re delighted with their progress.”

The birth process was monitored by zookeepers, who utilised hidden cameras to observe Arya’s six-hour labor. Using a “cubcam,” they captured poignant moments of Arya tenderly caring for her newborns, from their initial cleaning to their first nourishing suckle.

According to the statement, the three infants have so far spent all their time inside in their custom-built cubbing den with mum and opened their eyes after just 10 days.

Gender confirmation and naming are pending until the cubs undergo their first vet check and vaccinations, scheduled when they are 10 to 11 weeks old.

As the cubs progress through their first weeks of life, they remain nestled within the safety of their specially designed den. However, as the weather warms, there’s anticipation that they may soon venture outside, offering zoo visitors a glimpse of the adorable additions to the zoo family.

Despite their tender age, the cubs have already achieved significant milestones. They opened their eyes after ten days and are steadily growing stronger under the attentive care of their mother.

London Zoo is part of international wildlife conservation charity, ZSL, which works to protect species like the Asiatic lion, and many other around the world.

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