Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Lily the lion steps into the zoo spotlight

Infant Barbary lion Lily rests in the arms of her keeper after a gruelling day of meeting her adoring public for the first time at Belfast Zoo yesterday.

Lily was rescued from her zoo enclosure in June after she was rejected by her mother Fidda at birth, and reared by keeper Linda Frew in her home.

The tiny lion cub has taken up residence in her new paddock at Belfast Zoo, where she was born earlier this summer.

A second cub in the litter was less lucky and was killed by the lioness.

The pair were the first ever Barbary lions born in Ireland.

The sub-species is extinct in the wild and only around 40 animals remain in the European captive population.

The last true record of a wild Barbary lion was in 1942 and the animal in question was killed in the Atlas mountains in Morocco.

All present-day Barbary lions in captivity are descended from the royal lions owned by the Sultan of Morocco, which were given to him as tribute.

Lily shares her new paddock with Keepa, a Japanese Akita dog.

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