First lion cubs born in captivity at Jerusalem zoo
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First lion cubs born in captivity at Jerusalem zoo

Yasha and Gir now proud parents of first Asian lions to be bred in Israel as part of European endangered species program

Lioness Yasha and her two new-born cubs at the Jerusalem Biblical zoo (Gili Cohen-Magen)
Lioness Yasha and her two new-born cubs at the Jerusalem Biblical zoo (Gili Cohen-Magen)

Just in time for the reopening of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo earlier this week after an extended coronavirus lockdown, it was announced that two Asian lions were born in captivity for the first time in Israel.

The zoo said the two lion cubs had survived their first few weeks and would soon be shown to the public once they are strong enough.

The cubs were bred as part of the European endangered species program.

There are only around 500 Asian lions left in the wild throughout the world, most of them in the Gir National Park in Gujarat, in western India.

As part of the program, a male lion answering to the name of Gir came to the Jerusalem zoo in January 2014 from a zoo in Sweden when he was three years old.

A lioness, Yasha, joined him in Jerusalem later that year after being donated by a zoo in Germany. Now the couple are the proud parents of two baby cubs, who have yet to be named and whose sex is as yet unknown.

Proud parents Yasha and Gir with their two new-born cubs. (Gili Cohen Magen)

The zoo said that one of their concerns had been how the parents would react to the cubs. In the wild, the lioness will hide her cubs for one or two months before they are introduced to the rest of the pride.

Now that the cubs are five weeks old, Gir has been granted paternal access and has even been spotted licking them.

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