Rare Asiatic lion cubs have been born at Paignton Zoo. Two cubs were born on Thursday 16th June to mother Maliya and father Lucifer. This is her first successful litter.
Maliya is currently tucked away with her cubs and her mother, Indu, who was born at Paignton Zoo and who is now a granny! Father Lucifer is still on show to visitors. The cubs arrived not long after a similar event next door in the Zoo’s tiger house. CCTV cameras donated by Crimehalt Fire & Security have captured images of the newborns.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “They still have to come through their critical first few weeks. We have been letting her get on with being a new mum – so far she seems to be doing really well. We are cautiously excited and are monitoring them closely by CCTV. If she rears them successfully it will be very good news for the conservation breeding programme for the species.”
Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary (India). There are conservation breeding programmes in zoos including a European Endangered species Programme (EEP).
The Asiatic lion is smaller than the African and has a distinctive fold of skin on the belly. Also, the Asiatic male’s mane is smaller and lighter in colour. Both sexes defend their territory by roaring, urine marking and patrolling. Birth comes after a gestation of about 105 days (3.5 months). Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring (01803) 697500.