Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 14:42 UK

Lion cub lives with zoo director

Zara the lion cub and Arnie the tom cat
Zara the lion cub and Arnie the tom cat are "great friends"

A lion cub is being hand-reared by the director of a Cambridgeshire zoo because her mother would not feed her.

Zara has been bottle-fed daily by staff at Linton Zoo after her parents struggled to cope with their newborn.

She was just 2lb 4oz and would have died without human intervention, but six weeks on she weighs a healthy 10lb.

Zara, who lives at Kim Simmons' home, has also made friends with the family cat Arnie - but it is hoped that ultimately she will be freed in Uganda.

Mrs Simmons said: "We only hand-rear the cubs if it is absolutely necessary, but this was Safina's (Zara's mother) first baby and she couldn't feed her due to her young age and inexperience."

Mrs Simmons said Zara had become "great friends" with her ginger tom cat Arnie since moving into her home, on the zoo site.

"She's got an absolutely wonderful personality and is very laid back and affectionate.

Zara the lion cub
Zara was 2lb 4oz and would have died without human intervention

"Arnie the cat loves having cubs in the house and the two are great friends, but we'll have to guard him as Zara gets bigger and stronger."

Zara is the latest addition to a family of five lions' at family-run Linton Zoo, near Cambridge.

Her parents Safina and Zuri and her grandparents Riziki and Karla are all at the zoo which has been operating since 1972.

Safina and Zuri are expecting another litter of cubs in October and Ms Simmons believes their brief experience with Zara will help them to be more able to cope next time.

All lions born at Linton Zoo will be moved to Uganda as part of a joint project between West Midlands Safari Park and Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.


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