Rare Asiatic lion cubs have been born at Paignton Zoo.

Four cubs were born in Tuesday 15th May to mother Indu and father Mwamba.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “They have come through the critical first few weeks. We have been letting her get on with being a new mum - so far she seems to be doing really well. We are cautiously excited – if she is successful then it will be thanks to a lot of care and attention from the keepers. It is very good news for the species.”

Male Mwamba came from Twycross Zoo in the Midlands, where he was born on 13th February 2004. He arrived at Paignton Zoo in August 2006. Indu born at Paignton Zoo in October 2003.

This is their first success as parents after several failed attempts. A cub born in June 2011 had to be put to sleep in August after it was found to have spinal defects.

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary (India). There are conservation breeding programmes in zoos including a European Endangered species Programme (EEP).

The Asiatic lion is smaller than the African and has a distinctive fold of skin on the belly. Also, the Asiatic male's mane is smaller and lighter in colour. Both sexes defend their territory by roaring, urine marking and patrolling. Birth comes after a gestation of about 105 days (3.5 months).

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