Seven African lion cubs born at West Midland Safari Park
The cat is out of the bag at West Midland Safari Park – as keepers announce the arrival of two litters of African lion cubs.
Ten-year-old Scar gave birth to three cubs on August 27, with the second litter of four cubs following three weeks later on September 17, for seven-year-old Amber.
Both sets of cubs are now around four months old – they will be ready to meet visitors to the attraction from February half term on the drive-through safari.
Keepers suspected that the two females might be expecting after witnessing mating behaviour with dominant male, five-year-old Tsavo, who arrived at West Midland Safari Park with his two brothers in 2016.
Tsavo is father to both sets of cubs, making the seven youngsters half-siblings.
All animals born at the Park in 2019 have names beginning with the letter 'H'. Scar's cubs – two males and a female – have been named Hunter, Hercules and Hernatty, while Amber's cubs – three males and a female – have been named Harabi, Hodge, Havoc and Hira.
Chris Hodgkins, head keeper of carnivores, said: "We are so excited to share our news about our latest arrivals. As both Scar and Amber are first-time mums, we wanted to disturb them as little as possible, so this has meant keeping them away from the rest of the pride in a special area of our lion house.
"Now both sets of cubs have had all their vaccinations and have been introduced to each other, as well as some of the pride, they are almost ready to meet the public, from February half term."
He added: "Both mums gave birth to their litters with no struggles and have proven to be excellent mothers. We left them alone for the first few days, checking on them occasionally from a distance to make sure they were moving around and feeding well.
"Once the cubs became a bit more active, we started to introduce them to the different areas of the lion house, whilst the rest of the pride were out on the safari. This gets them used to the different textures, sights and smells and it was great fun watching them tentatively take their first steps in the new areas.
“Once both sets of cubs had their vaccinations and health checks at eight weeks and twelve weeks old, we mixed the mothers and cubs together.
"The cubs instantly started playing together, chasing each other around and jumping all over both mums. They have been inseparable ever since and we often find them all cosied up together or playing.”