Critically Endangered Cubs at Bristol Gardens
February 25, 2011
Born Christmas Eve, twin little Asiatic Lion cubs have just begun to emerge at Bristol Zoo Gardens. The 10 week old cubs, one male and one female, are quite shy and spend most of their days enjoying quiet time in the den or hiding in the undergrowth of their outdoor enclosure. However, Assistant Curator of Mammals, Mel Bacon, reports that “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." Asiatic lions are critically endangered and there are only around 400 left in the wild. Two thousand 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.
Photo credits: Photos 1 and 3 Bristol Zoo Gardens. Photo 2 Shaun Thompson
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.
This is the first time Bristol Zoo has bred cubs in 10 years - previous cubs were born in 2001 and 1998.