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A spot of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of eight Lion cubs at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park as they ventured outside for the very first time this week. The eight cubs, four males and four females, were born back in August, but hadn’t joined the rest of the pride until now. 

They certainly made up for lost time. Even the pouring rain didn’t seem to be a problem for the youngsters, who played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful gaze of moms Nikata and Louisa. Both the first-time mothers have impressed keepers with their attentive behavior.

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Within minutes of being released, the cubs were covered in mud and leaves and were taking turns trying to balance their way along a slippery fallen tree trunk. Several of the braver individuals practiced their ambush skills on Mom, although they were rather more cautious when dad Hugo came over to say hello.

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Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Both mums have four cubs with two of each sex. Hugo is also a first time father, but he's considerably less interested in the youngsters and soon went back to what male lions do best – sleeping!” 

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Longleat is famed for its Lions, which are kept in two separate prides. However this is the first time the ‘woodland’ pride has had cubs. At birth the cubs weighed just 2.2 pounds (1 kgm), but they now tip the scales at almost 18 pounds (8 kgs)! Males usually reach their full size by the age of two, while females will be about three years old before they’re fully grown. Adults can weigh up to 440 pounds (200 kgs).