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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 07:06 GMT
Rare lions pride of Belfast Zoo
By Barra Best
BBC News

Barbary lions are now only to be found in captivity
Barbary lions are now only to be found in captivity
Staff at Belfast Zoo are celebrating the birth of two endangered Barbary lions.

The births of the male cubs are extremely important as Barbary lions are extinct in the wild and zoos are the only hope for their survival.

There are about 40 Barbary lions cared for by various zoos in Europe and fewer than 100 in zoos around the world.

The cubs' parents, Qays and Fidda, arrived at Belfast Zoo in July 2005 and the pair are the second litter to be born to the pride.

The zoo became even more popular last June following the birth of Lily the lion cub.

Measuring just 37cm long, she was rejected by her mother and had to be hand-reared.

She now shares an enclosure with a dog to encourage her to abandon her bond with humans.

It is hoped she can join the lion enclosure later this year.

Marketing manager Joy Bond said: "The zoo is absolutely delighted that we have two more Barbary lion cubs.

"It's a significant achievement for Belfast Zoo and its keepers that the lion pride unit continues to grow, and that the mother and baby relationship has developed.

"The sub-species of lion are conservationally important as they are extinct in the wild."

The species was certified extinct after the last known Barbary was shot in Morocco in 1921.



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