Twin Asiatic lion cubs have been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton, which is fantastic success for all those involved at the city zoo.
- A new born lion cub at Bristol Zoo captured by photographer Shaun Thompson
- The new-born twins at Bristol Zoo Gardens, pic by Bristol Zoo
The cubs - a boy and a girl - are just 10 weeks old and were born on Christmas eve to first time mum, Shiva, and dad Kamal. The news is even more welcome as these magnificent creatures are critically endangered in the wild.
There are only around 400 Asiatic lions left in the wild and since their birth, the cubs have been monitored in the cubbing den via a CCTV system by Bristol Zoo’s experienced mammal team.
Keepers caught the moment of the cubs’ birth on video – an extremely rare occurrence. To watch the video of the cubs’ birth and their first few days of life, click here.
The cubs are tricky to spot as they still spend a lot of time in a quiet, cubbing den not on view to the public, with their mother, or hiding in the undergrowth of their outdoor enclosure.
Assistant Curator of Mammals, Mel Bacon, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the birth of these lion cubs. Asiatic lions are critically endangered and on the brink of extinction, so every birth is extremely valuable for the captive breeding programme for this species.”
This is the first time Bristol Zoo has bred cubs in 10 years - previous cubs were born in 2001 and 1998.
Mel added: “Both cubs are fit, healthy and strong and have been suckling well, and Shiva is proving to be an excellent first-time mother. The cubs have recently started to eat meat and are getting more adventurous, exploring their enclosure. However, they are still quite shy, so visitors will need to be a little bit patient to catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals.”
Although only 400 animals remain in the Gir Forest Sanctuary in northern India, 2000 years ago they once roamed the whole of the Middle East. More recently they were widespread throughout northern India and Pakistan, but their numbers have been drastically reduced by hunting and habitat destruction.
To help protect the Asiatic lion from extinction, Bristol Zoo Gardens is participating in an internationally co-ordinated conservation breeding programme. There are fewer than 100 Asiatic lions in captivity throughout the world and it is important to ensure that all lions are pure bred and that pairs are not closely related to one another. Bristol Zoo’s cubs will eventually be introduced to new, un-related, animals as part of the breeding programme.