Five lion cubs have recently been shown to the public for the first time with great fanfare at Neuwied zoo in southwestern Germany.
The litter of cubs — three males Baz, Chaka and Sab and two females Jumina and Lin — were born at the zoo in April 2017, to six-year-old female Zari (previously from Hannover zoo) and the incumbent male, Schroeder (who was born in Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic), who is nearly ten.
So what is the big deal? The zoo presents them as barbary lions – certainly Schroeder and Zari are established on the European zoo studbook for lions descended from the King of Morocco’s collection. Around 300 animals are lsited on the studbook going back to the origninal animals taken form the King’s Palace in the late 1960s and placed in Rabat zoo.
Since there are only a few hundred lions in India and a few hundred in West and Central Africa which represent the northenr subspecies of lion, Panthera leo leo (Bertola et al, 2016; Black 2016). the north african population is no loinger present in the wild, and its most likely remnant are the 100 or so animals in european Collections and in the Mrooccan collection at Rabat. So these five new cubs may yet have an important role to play in lion conservation.
Asian Age (2017) German zoo displays rare barbary lion cubs http://www.asianage.com/photo/life/290617/german-zoo-displays-rare-barbary-lion-cubs.html
Associated Press (2017) 5 rare barbary lion cubs go on show in a zoo in Germany
Bertola, L. D.,et al. (2016) Phylogeographic Patterns in Africa and High Resolution Delineation of Genetic Clades in the Lion (Panthera leo). Scientific Reports 6:30807. DOI: 10.1038/srep30807
Black S.A. (2016) The Challenges of Exploring the Genetic Distinctiveness of the Barbary Lion and the Identification of Putative Descendants in Captivity, International Journal of Evolutionary Biology. vol. 2016, Article ID 6901892, 9 pages, 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/6901892