Visitors have helped name the rare Asiatic lion cubs born at Paignton Zoo - and raised £702.53 for conservation in the process. People voted for their favourite names by putting money into special collecting boxes labelled with a shortlist of names chosen by zoo keepers.

Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We made a special collecting box with a slot for each name. People voted by making a donation. It meant that people who had seen the cubs were able to vote.”

The choice of girls’ names were:
Amaris – child of the moon (the name of mother Indu means moon)
Karishma – miracle
Maliya – a place name
Rashmi – moon beam
Zarina – gold

The winning girls’ names are Zarina and Maliya.

The choice of male names were:
Inesh – strong king
Jari – a sacred fig tree, but it also means powerful, brave
Lathi – a form of ancient martial art using sticks
Palash – flame of the forest tree
Sabal – with strength

The winning boys’ names are Jari and Sabal.

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park in 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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