Belfast’s famous lion, Lily, has had her first pair of cubs in her new home in the Czech Republic. Lily is an extremely rare Barbary Lion, a species that went extinct in the wild in 1922. Lily was born in 2007 at Belfast Zoo and was hand-reared after being rejected by her mother. Lily moved to the Czech Republic in August of 2009 to meet a suitable male lion named Simon. They moved to Olomouc Zoo together, and are now the proud parents of these brother and sister cubs.
Officials from Olomouc zoo have said that Lily is being the perfect mum and her two cubs are doing well. Linda Frew is a Belfast Zoo keeper who hand-reared Lily when she was rejected from her mother and at risk of being killed. Linda is over the moon at the news of Lily’s cubs.
“I am absolutely delighted that Lily has had two healthy cubs with her new mate Simon. The icing on the cake is that she is rearing the cubs herself, which is rare for first time mums, and especially those who have been hand-reared. The cubs are just beautiful.”
Zoo manager Mark Challis says the whole zoo was very excited to hear of the news of Lily’s first cubs. “We are all very excited about Lily’s news and to see that her cubs are healthy and well. It really is testament to the hard work of staff here at the zoo to ensure the right care was given to Lily. When we took the decision to hand-rear Lily, the aim was always to let her grow up to be able to live with other lions and so her animalistic behaviours were always encouraged. We are thrilled that Lily has helped contribute towards the conservation of this extinct lion and look forward to hearing about her progress with the cubs. “
Belfast Zoo has four Barbary lions, including Lily’s dad Qays and her mum Fidda. Barbary lions are extinct in the wild and there are less than 40 Barbary lions in zoos around the world. You can help support the Barbary lions at Belfast Zoo by taking part in the adoption program.