Fota announces birth of endangered lion cubs

Picture: Darragh KAne

Fota Wildlife Park in Cork has announced the birth of four Asian lion cubs (Panthera leo persica).

The cubs were born in February to second-time parents, mother Gira and father Shanto.

The eight-week-old cubs were born along with a fifth cub who was stillborn. The new cubs join their parent’s first litter who are now one and a half years old – Amira, Arya and Loki and aunt Gita in their specially designed habitat in Fota Wildlife Park.

As yet the cubs are unsexed and unnamed and Fota Wildlife Park is calling on the public to help name them.

Lead Ranger Kelly Lambe said they are thrilled with the arrival of this litter.

"This species is endangered and now inhabits only one remaining site in the world – the Gir Forest, in India, which means that wildlife parks and zoos play a crucial role in safeguarding the species and maintaining the genetic diversity outside of the pocket of the wild population

"Unfortunately, one of the cubs was stillborn however, five in a litter in extremely rare and we are delighted that there are four cubs thriving.

"It’s Gira’s second litter with our male lion, Shanto, and she is a protective mum. We vaccinated and weighted them all yesterday and they all weight exactly the same – 7.15kg.”

Asian lion cubs born in Fota Wildlife Park, 2019

Fota Wildlife Park opened the Asian Sanctuary in 2015, and it is now home to some of Asia's most endangered species such as the Indian rhino, the Sumatran tiger and the Asian lion.

The pride of Asian lions at Fota Wildlife Park features the male Shanto, aged eight, who came from Zoo de Santillana in Spain and two sisters Gira and Gita, both aged five, who came from Helsinki Zoo in Finland in the summer of 2016.

The pride was added in to in August 2017 with the birth two females and a male cub - Amira, Arya and Loki.

Almost all the world’s population of wild lions live in sub-Sharan Africa except for the Asian lion which inhabits the Gir Forest in India which is now a reserve for this endangered species.

Fota Wildlife Park participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) for Asian lions. There are now only 500 Asian lions living in the wild.

Fota Wildlife Park is set on 100 acres in the heart of Cork Harbour and is open daily from 10am.

It is a non- profit conservation organisation and is part of the Zoological Society of Ireland.

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