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First-ever litter of Asian lion cubs born at Fota Wildlife Park

Asian lions are endangered as there are only about 500 individuals remaining in the wild.
Aug 31st 2017, 7:12 PM 15,028 15

Pics: Fota Wildlife Park 

FOTA WILDLIFE PARK in Cork has announced that one of its Asian lionesses has given birth to her first litter of cubs.

This is the first time such a litter has been born at the park.

The gender of the three cubs, which were born on 13 August, has yet to be identified.

They were born to first-time parents, mother Gira and father Shanto, after a gestation period of about 112 days.

Asian lions are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as there are only about 500 individuals remaining in the wild.

The pride of Asian lions at Fota Wildlife Park includes the five-year-old male Shanto – who came from Zoo de Santillana in Spain – and two sisters Gira and Gita, both three, who came from Helsinki Zoo in Finland.

Sean McKeown, director of the park, said: “It’s our first participation in the international breeding programme for Asian lions and we are delighted to see this success in the arrival of the cubs.

There are only approximately 200 Asian lions in wildlife parks and zoos, and to be able to contribute to a successful captive breeding programme worldwide is an essential safeguard against a severe decline to the wild population, which may be vulnerable to disease or other factors such as natural disaster.

Compared to their African cousins, Asian lions have shaggier coats, with a longer tassel on the end of their tail and longer tufts of hair on their elbows. The most noticeable physical characteristic found in all Asian lions, but rarely in African lions, is a fold of skin running along their belly.

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Órla Ryan

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