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A lion with an evil name has arrived at Paignton Zoo. Male Asiatic lion Lucifer sounds like he’s going to be a hellish handful - but it’s hoped that the conservation charity’s two female lions will find him devilishly handsome.

Lucifer got his name because his number in the computerised Animal Record Keeping System (ARKS), which helps collections around the world keep track of animals, is 666.

He was born at Cotswold Wildlife Park in 2002. Paignton Zoo’s Senior Head Keeper of Mammals, Matthew Webb, was working at the Park at the time. “He was one of the first cubs they had while I was there. As an adult male lion there’s no doubt that he can be a bit evil when he wants, but I understand he is quite good with his keepers. I don’t think he has horns under that mane!”

He has moved to Devon from London Zoo in the hope that he will breed. The 11 year old, who weighs in at 30 stone or 190 kilos, will join mother and daughter Indu and Maliya.

Paignton Zoo Curator of mammals Neil Bemment said: “The move was recommended by the European Endangered Species Programme Co-ordinator for the species. Fewer than 300 Asiatic lions survive in the wild. As many again are kept safe in zoos – Paignton Zoo is part of the international breeding programme that is trying to save the species.

“In fact, Indu is having a reversible contraceptive implant because two litters of cubs at one time would be very difficult to manage! Maliya is genetically more important to breed from at this stage.”

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