Meet Lion cub twins Abayas and Damien, born on August 1 at Dresden Zoo to 6 year-old mother Layla and Dad Jago. For the first several weeks Mom stayed behind the scenes with her babies to bond and keep close watch as they opened their eyes and began to totter around. But in just five weeks, she led them to the outdoor habitat, where they explored new things like grass and bark under her gaze. Eventually their father was introduced successfully, a decision that is left to the instincts of the mother to decide.
Now the entire family is on exhibit together. Abayas and Damien, now 4 months old, spend much of the day (when not napping) playing with seemingly boundless energy, much to the delight of all that witness it.
These babies are big on batting and nipping each other, all in good fun and practice for when they will prowl and pounce as big cats. Proof of this is to be seen in these pictures of them below, when they did the same thing when only three days old -- and after, at one month of age!
But sometimes, they just bite themselves... or attempt a snarl and swat game with Mom or Dad...
Photo Credit: Photos 1,2,4,5, 7,8: Jaqueline Meurer, Photo 3: Dresden Zoo, Photo 6: Knipsklaus
While Lions are considered to be king of the forest and plains, they are still vulnerable to changes in their environment due to man. Wild Lion populations have shrunken by half in some areas of Africa. This is why managed breeding in zoos is so important. It helps preserve a strong genetic foundation for this magnificent species. See more pictures of the Lion twins and the entire pride after the fold: