Cotswold Wildlife Park

Lucky Zebra Born on Friday the 13th

1_Zebra foal 2018 Cotswold Wildlife Park (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (1a)

Keepers at Cotswold Wildlife Park are thankful for a fortunate event that occurred on a traditionally unlucky day-- Friday the 13th! They discovered that their Chapman’s Zebra mare, Stella, had given birth to a foal. This is her fourth baby with stallion, SpongeBob, and it is the breeding pairs’ first female foal.

Keepers enlisted the help of fans and supporters to select a name for the energetic new filly, and the name ‘Luna’ was chosen!

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “For once, Friday the 13th proved very lucky. The foal was up and about very quickly and despite a distinct lack of coordination, was soon dashing around the paddock. Luckily for her, she was able to enjoy the benefits of a rare hot British summer and continues to go from strength to strength.”

Visitors to the Park can now see the youngster in the Zebra enclosure, opposite the Rhino paddock.

2_Zebra foal 2018 Cotswold Wildlife Park (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (2c)

3_Zebra foal 2018 Cotswold Wildlife Park (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (9)

4_Zebra foal 2018 Cotswold Wildlife Park (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (10)Photo Credits: Jackie Thomas/Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Wildlife Park has been home to these iconic African animals since 1976. Their first Chapman’s Zebra (Equus quagga chapmani) arrived at the Burford collection in 1978, eight years after the Park first opened to the public on Good Friday, 27th March 1970. This latest arrival marks the forty-fifth Chapman’s Zebra birth - a testament to the Park’s successful breeding programme.

The gestation period for a Zebra is approximately twelve months. Females give birth to a single foal. Soon after birth, they are able to stand up and walk. During the first few weeks of life, the mother is very protective. The foal recognizes its mother by her call, her scent and her stripe pattern. The mare’s protectiveness ensures that the foal will not imprint on another animal. The mare will suckle her foal throughout and beyond his first year and their bond is an incredibly strong one.

Zebras are the only wild horses that remain plentiful in their natural range in the African plains. They are related to the now extinct Quagga (a cross between a Zebra and a horse) of which millions were killed, many simply for sport. Some were transported to zoos where breeding was thought unnecessary, as it was believed numbers weren’t a concern in the wild. Sadly, the last Quagga died in Amsterdam Zoo on 12th August 1883.

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Cotswold Celebrates Birth of Wolverine Kits

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is now home to three new Wolverine kits. After spending approximately nine weeks hidden away in their underground den, the triplets are beginning to venture out and explore their new woodland enclosure under the watchful eye of parents, Sarka and Sharapova.

The Park made history in 2012 as the first collection in the UK to successfully breed Wolverines (Gulo gulo) in captivity. These new arrivals are Sarka and Sharapova’s third litter and are testament to the Park’s excellent European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

Breeding is notoriously difficult with this species, so the youngsters are encouraging news for future generations. The triplets are the only Wolverine births in the UK this year - with just five other European zoological collections having successfully bred this species in 2018 (the breeding season is now over).

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3_35694831_10160610994715014_2143958497757233152_oPhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park/ Jackie Thomas (Image 2)

Keepers were unsure exactly how many kits had been born until mother, Sharapova, started bringing the youngsters out of the den.

Jamie Craig, Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park and member of the EEP committee for Wolverines, commented, “Once the female enters her den, we are pretty confident that the kits have arrived. She is an excellent mother, only leaving the kits for very brief periods to eat and drink. Once the kits are old enough, she will allow them out to investigate their surroundings but always under her vigilant eye. We were delighted to be the first UK collection to breed this species and, in many ways, it is even more rewarding to repeat our success for a third time.”

Females have a reproductive strategy known as embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation. The embryo does not immediately implant in the uterus, but is maintained in a state of dormancy which allows pregnant females to fine-tune births and wait for the best possible conditions. Reproduction is hugely energetically expensive for any animal. If the environmental conditions aren’t able to support a female through the intense periods of pregnancy and nursing, it makes little sense to put energy into giving birth to young that may not survive. Diapause can last up to ten months in Wolverines. In the wild, when females are ready to give birth, they excavate long, complex snow tunnels for reproduction dens. They give birth to kits and shelter them from predation and harsh weather until weaning time. Newborns are altricial and covered in white fur with a pungent waxy substance on their pelage. This acts as a great defense against predators while the kits are vulnerable. Males do not assist in the rearing of young.

Recent studies have yielded important new insights into the nature of the Wolverine’s ecological niche. Unfortunately, these findings don’t bode well for the species’ future as the planet – and particularly the Arctic – continues to warm. Wolverine researcher, K. B. Aubry, warned: “The Wolverine may be second only to the Polar Bear in its sensitivity to global warming”.

In America, this species once roamed across the northern tier of the United States and as far south as New Mexico in the Rockies. They are facing local extinction due to climate change and habitat loss. Approximately 300 individuals are believed to exist in the lower 48 states of America. In 2016, after a 20-year battle to protect these reclusive animals, the United States District Court for Montana finally granted the Wolverine the designation of a threatened species.


Collared Lemur Baby Arrives for ‘Lemur Week’

1_Baby Collared Lemur with mum Anais (1)

Ten years ago, Cotswold Wildlife Park’s interactive Lemur exhibit, “Madagascar”, officially opened to the public. On the exhibit’s anniversary, the Park’s Primate team is thrilled to announce the birth of a Collared Lemur, bringing the total numbers of Lemur breeding successes to 55 since the Madagascar exhibit officially opened a decade ago. Visitors can see the tiny newborn in the exhibit it shares with a troop of 18 other free-roaming Lemurs and nine Madagascan Birds.

Females are only sexually receptive for just two or three days a year, so the window of opportunity for males to father offspring is small. After a gestation period of approximately 165 days, Lemur mum, Anais, gave birth. The baby’s father is, Varika.

Natalie Horner, Deputy Section Head of Primates, said, “On the 5th of May, we discovered that our female Collared Lemur, Anais, had given birth that very morning. Anais is an experienced mum, so did brilliantly during the delivery and was already cleaning the baby up ready for its first feed. Lemur babies only weigh around 80g when first born but are able to cling to their mum’s fur and clamber around to find the best feeding position. At the moment, the baby is spending most of the time feeding and sleeping. Apart from upping her daily diet, we don’t interfere and leave everything in mum’s capable hands – just observe from afar to make sure both mother and baby are bonding and doing well”.

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3_Collared Lemur baby with mum Anais (DR1)

4_Collared Lemur baby with mum Anais (DR4)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

To highlight the plight of the world’s most endangered Lemurs, Cotswold Wildlife Park will dedicate 26th May – 3rd June 2018 to ‘Lemur Week’. Its aim is to raise awareness and funds for the Park’s conservation projects helping to save the world’s most threatened Lemurs from extinction.

As part of ‘Lemur Week’, visitors will have the chance to name the new Collared Lemur baby, as well as take part in a variety of Lemur-themed activities. Read more about the Park’s conservation projects here: https://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/conservation/.

The Collared Lemur (Eulemur collaris) is found in rainforests in a small range in the southeastern tip of Madagascar. Like most species of Lemur, it is arboreal, and like other brown Lemurs, this species is cathemeral (active during the day and the night). They are known to feed on a variety of plant species.

The Collared Lemur is currently listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and it is threatened primarily by habitat loss.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Cotswold Keeper Cares for Fruit Bat Orphans

1_Babies Bruce & Wayne being fed banana by Natalie (1)

Deputy Section Head of Primates, Natalie Horner, has successfully taken on the role of surrogate mother to two abandoned Egyptian Fruit Bat pups at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

This is the first time Natalie has hand-reared these nocturnal mammals and, according to Park records, it is also the first time this species has been hand-reared at the Burford collection. The pups were discovered on their own when the Bat House was undergoing a major revamp.

Natalie explained, “A couple of days after we moved all of the Bats into temporary holdings, while we refurbished the Bat House, we saw both babies roosting by themselves. Mother Bats often 'park' their babies to give themselves a break. So we left them for a day, in the hope their mums would come and collect them again, as the chances of the babies surviving without a feed and warmth are very slim.”

Their mothers never returned so the decision was made to hand-rear them in order to give the pups, named Bruce and Wayne, the best possible chance of survival. Natalie became their surrogate mother and took them to her home where they could be given around-the-clock care. At the time, they were around four to six weeks old and weighed forty grams. Unable to maintain their own body temperature, they were kept in an incubator for two weeks and monitored closely by Natalie.

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4_1st photos of Bruce & Wayne (asleep after feeding) (1)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Hand-rearing these tiny winged-mammals was no mean feat. A lot of time and effort was invested in the newborns, which hopefully would result in not only their survival but also their eventual reintroduction to the colony.

Natalie said, “I had to feed the babies every three hours in the early days. They were given milk as well as mashed fruit. The first feed of the day was at six o’clock in the morning and the last feed was at midnight.”

Feeding soon became one of Natalie’s favorite parental duties, and she explained why: “One of the things I'll never forget was wrapping the babies in their blankets for feed times. Wrapping them up gave them comfort, as their mother would wrap her wings around them to keep them safe. As soon as they finished their feed (and sometimes during) they would fall asleep wrapped in their blankets. It really melted my heart.”

As they continued to grow, and in order for their wings to developed properly, she encouraged them to fly.

“When they were around ten weeks old we began flying lessons. This was great fun. Bats instinctively know how to fly, so they just needed a little bit of encouragement. I would hang them from my finger and gently bob them up and down to encourage them to wing beat. I hung towels and sheets on the walls of my spare room to give plenty of roosting opportunities. The first lesson went as expected - they flapped their wings and flopped straight on the floor! They quickly recovered though and it didn't take long at all for their muscles to strengthen and for them to fly from one side of the room to the other. From then we had nightly flying lessons. As soon as they were able to fly comfortably around my spare room they were upgraded to their own enclosure at the Park before being reintroduced to the colony.”

Bruce and Wayne developed into strong young Bats and the day Natalie had been hoping for finally arrived. Natalie continued, “By the time the Bats were six months old they were fully self-feeding and very strong and capable flyers. They are still only half the size of the adult Bats but shouldn't have any problems integrating and competing for food. So the decision was made to reintroduce them to the rest of the colony. There wasn't much preparation needed so the Bats were put into transport bags and taken to the Bat enclosure. Once taken out of the bags, I placed them on my finger for one last time and watched them fly off to rejoin the rest of the colony. They both flew a couple of circuits of the enclosure before roosting with the rest of the colony. It was such a proud moment for me, and such a happy ending to what had been four amazing months. To see the babies back with their family made all the hard work worth it. I'm so happy for them to be back where they belong.”

The tiny survivors are testament to Natalie’s dedication as their keeper. Looking back on her time as their surrogate mother, she said: “Hand-rearing Bruce and Wayne was an amazing experience. To care for them, help them grow and develop into strong, healthy Bats and then reintroduce them back to their colony was incredibly rewarding. Bats are fascinating animals and are important plant pollinators and seed dispersers. It’s been great to raise awareness for these misunderstood animals and hopefully we've been able to change some opinions and generate more love for these wonderful mammals.”

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Rowdy Rhino Calf Joins 'Crash' at Cotswold

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a White Rhino calf. The newborn male, named Alan, is the newest additions to the UK park’s “crash” (collective noun for a group of Rhinos) at their Burford collection.

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family at Cotswold. After almost forty years of hoping the Rhinos would breed, history was finally made in 2013 with the birth of Astrid, the Park’s first Rhino breeding success.

Since the arrival of Astrid, thanks to the dedication of the mammal keepers, the breeding programme has gone from strength to strength. The newest arrival, Alan, is the fourth White Rhino to be born at the Park.

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4_Rhino baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (3c) (3)Photo Credits: Jackie Thomas /Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Alan is the second calf for parents, Ruby and Monty. At just one-week old, he weighed around eleven stone (154 lbs.), and he is proving to be a high-spirited and boisterous youngster. Ruby also continues to impress keepers with her skills as an exceptional and protective mother.

(Alan is named in honor of Cotswold Wildlife Park’s electrician who retires this year after twenty-three years of dedicated service.)

Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Reggie Heyworth, said, “Everyone is over-joyed about the birth of another Rhino calf to Ruby, who is being such a good mother, for the second time. The calf looks like a strong lad already, and the rest of the Rhino ‘crash’ seem to be taking his arrival in their stride. With Rhinos facing such poaching pressures in the wild, every birth in captivity is a sign of hope for this wonderful species”.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only thirteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months.

Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. After a gestation period of sixteen to eighteen months, a single calf is born. This is one of the longest gestation periods of any land mammal, surpassed only by the twenty-two month gestation period of an Elephant. A newborn Rhino calf will stand up within one hour of birth and immediately attempt to suckle, although he or she may be a little unsteady on their feet for the first few days. It will remain under the watchful eye of the mother, suckling from her for approximately one year. Their bond is an intensely strong one, and the calf will remain with its mother for at least two years, benefiting from her protection. Females guard their offspring aggressively and are intimidating adversaries if challenged.

The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum ssp. simum) is living proof of conservation success. They were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino and were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s, when it was believed only some fifty animals remained in their native South Africa. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino species, although poaching in the last five years has once again escalated to serious levels. Three of the five Rhino species – the Black, Javan and Sumatran – are critically endangered.

Poaching for their horns remains the biggest threat to these iconic animals. Recently HRH Prince William warned: “Rhinos face extinction in our lifetime as we struggle to correct lies about the supposed benefits of using its horn as a drug”. There is no evidence that horns, made of the same substance as human fingernails and hair, have any medicinal value. However, the false belief that Rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases has resulted in a population slaughter of one thousand and fifty four Rhinos in South Africa alone in 2016.

White Rhinos have always been an important species at the Wildlife Park. They were one of the first large mammals to join the collection, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970.

Cotswold Wildlife Park is committed to the conservation of these iconic mammals. Each year the Park hosts Rhino Month to raise awareness and funds for Rhino conservation work in Africa. This year £1,000 was raised and donated to Save the Rhino International for their conservation work with the critically endangered Black Rhinos in Namibia.

Visitors to the Park can see the new calf daily in the large Rhino paddock and solar powered Rhino House.

More great pics of Alan, below the fold!

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Five Playful Wolf Pups Pop Out of Their Den

First Wolf cub seen emerging from the den (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (4)

Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a litter of five Eurasian Wolf cubs – the first to be born at the Park in its 47-year history.  

For the first ten days of their lives, the cubs were hidden from sight in one of the underground dens their parents, Ash and Ember, had excavated. One night, after a heavy downpour of rain, Ember took her cubs out of the birthing den and placed them above ground to stay dry. This was the first time anyone had seen the cubs. Both Ember and Ash are devoted first-time parents and keepers are delighted that the youngsters are healthy.

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Ember feeding cubs (photo Jackie Thomas)Photo Credit: Jackie Thomas (images 1-6), Cotswold Wildlife Park (images 7-15)

 

The births were unexpected for the Wolves’ care team.  Two-year old male Ash and three-year old female Ember arrived at the zoo just last year, and Wolves normally take a long time to form pair bonds. Additionally, females come into heat only once a year, between January and March.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park Jamie Craig said, “Our Wolves are a new pairing and we did not really expect a successful breeding so soon. They have settled well and at present, everything with the adults and cubs is going to plan – we are keeping our fingers crossed that it continues but we have more confidence with every day that passes. The cubs will form an important nucleus to the ‘pack’ for the coming years.”

Wolves generally pair for life. Mating takes place in late winter or early spring. After a gestation period of approximately sixty-two days, the alpha female gives birth to a litter (usually between four and six cubs). At birth, the cubs are blind and deaf and are reliant on their parents for survival. After 11 to 15 days, their eyes open. Cubs develop rapidly under the watchful eye of their mother. At five weeks, the cubs are beginning to wean off their mother’s milk but cannot immediately fend for themselves and require considerable parental care and nourishment.

The Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the largest Wolf subspecies and the largest found outside of the Americas. There are almost 40 Wolf subspecies including Arctic Wolf, Tundra Wolf, critically endangered Red Wolf, Dingo and the domestic Dog.

See more photos and learn more about Eurasian Wolves below.

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First Porcupine Twins for Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of the first Porcupine twins in the Park’s forty-seven-year history!

The as-yet-unnamed and unsexed twins were born recently to first-time mother, Stempu, and father, Prickle. The newborns are currently on show in the enclosure they share with a trio of inquisitive Dwarf Mongooses.

According to Cotswold staff, the twins are perfect miniature versions of the adults, even born with a full set of quills, which begs the question visitors have been keen to ask keepers: “How does the female give birth without injury?” After a gestation period of approximately one hundred and twelve days (the longest gestation period of any rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. The babies, also known as Porcupettes, are also born relatively well developed, with eyes open and teeth present.

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4_Porcupettes 20 (5)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

African Crested Porcupines (Hystrix cristata) are the largest of the twenty-five Porcupine species. They are also the third largest rodent in the world, behind the Beaver and Capybara.

Their Latin name means, “quill pig”. Porcupines possess a spiny defense that is unique among rodents: approximately thirty thousand sharp quills adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. Quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and the horn of a Rhino). Each quill can boast up to eight hundred barbs. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.

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Cotswold Wildlife Park First in UK to Breed Rare Lizard

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Cotswold Wildlife Park has become the first zoological collection in the UK to breed the rare Chinese Crocodile Lizard.

The sex of the newborn is currently unknown, and the baby Lizard is currently off-show in the specialist Reptile rearing room. However, visitors to Cotswold can see the adults in their enclosure in the Reptile House. In the future, the newest Lizard will go on to be part of a breeding programme for this rare species.

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3_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby side view (photo Debbie Ryan)

4_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby 1 (photo Debbie Ryan)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park (Images: 1,2,5,6) / Debbie Ryan (3,4,8) / Callum O'Flaherty (7) 

The Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is semiaquatic and found only in the cool forests of the Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces of southern China, and the Quảng Ninh Province in northern Vietnam. Very little is known about this rare species. It was first collected in 1928, and it remains the most recently named Lizard genus.

The species is viviparous, meaning it gives birth to live young. It has a gestation period of approximately nine months and litters consist of between 1-12 young.

In the wild, it frequently spends hours, motionless, perched on rocks or branches above slow-moving streams and ponds.

Due to habit destruction, illegal poaching, capture for the pet trade, and local consumption, population numbers of this Lizard are under serious threat. Unfortunately, this species is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Lizard’s ability to remain immobile for hours, occasionally days, led to the belief that it could cure insomnia. In China they are also known as “the sleeping serpent”.

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First Sifaka Born in Great Britain Debuts at Cotswold

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the arrival of the first-ever Crowned Sifaka to be born in Great Britain. The baby male, named Yousstwo, is the first baby for new parents Bafana and Tahina. Cotswold Wildlife Park is the only mainland zoological collection in Great Britain to keep this endangered Lemur species.

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22Photo Credits:  Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jackie Thomas (photos 1 & 5)

Bafana arrived at the Park in 2009 from Besancon Zoo in France. Tahina joined him in 2013, from the same zoo, and the pair formed an instant bond. They are the only breeding pair in the country. Tahina is also the first hand-reared Sifaka in history to parent-rear her own offspring and is proving to be an exceptional mother.

The birth was caught on a closed-circuit camera which had been installed so keepers could keep an eye on Tahina without disturbing her.

Females are only sexually receptive for just one or two days a year, so the window of opportunity for males to father offspring is small. After a gestation period of approximately 165 days, females give birth to a baby completely covered in white fur and weighing less than four ounces. Infants are able to grip their mother’s fur from birth and they cling onto her belly for the first few weeks of life. After eight weeks, they start to develop the distinctive darker markings the Crowned Sifaka is famous for. They become independent at around six months old.

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Lion Triplets Are Three Times the Fun

Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cubs DSC_0156 (2) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
It’s three times the fun when Asiatic Lion cub triplets Kali, Sita, and Sonika come out to play at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Born May 25, the three female cubs have spent the last two months in the birthing den with their mother, Kanha.  Lionesses rear their babies in seclusion and often reject them if they are disturbed, so the staff monitored the cubs via closed circuit TV.

Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cub DSC_0156 (15) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cubs DSC_0156 (11) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
Photo Credit:  Natasha Jeffries
 
This is the first litter of Lion triplets born at Cotswold since the park opened in 1970. 

According to the staff, Kanha and Rana are proving to be excellent first-time parents and all three boisterous youngsters are healthy and developing into confident cubs.

Dad Rana met the cubs in the Lions’ outdoor enclosure last week, but for the last two months, he lived next door and took a great interest in the youngsters. 

Asiatic Lions are one of the world’s rarest big cat species. Wild population numbers have declined drastically over the last century, almost to the point of extinction. Once found throughout much of southwestern Asia, they are now only found in India’s Gir Forest with the 2015 census putting the entire wild population at 523 animals. 

Though they live in a protected area, conservationists worry that a disease epidemic could wipe out the entire Asiatic Lion population.  Breeding programs in zoos are extremely important to the future of this subspecies.  Asiatic Lions are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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