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World Lion Day: Rare Asiatic Lions Give Birth to First Ever Triplets at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Aug 10, 2016 05:33 AM EDT

Today, history has been made. Just in time for the World Lion Day, the rare Asiatic Lions, Rana and Kanha, at the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens have given birth to their first triplets ever.

A Historic First for the Park

According to an exclusive press release sent to Nature World News, the event is the first time that lion triplets have been born in the park since it opened in 1970.

“We have not bred Lions for many years at Cotswold Wildlife Park so it is an exciting time for the mammal keepers," said Jamie Craig, curator of the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

A 'Wild' Love Story in the Making

The triplets' parents, Rana and Kanha, were taken in the park in 2013 and 2014, respectively, as part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP).

After their transfer, the two Asiatic lions immediately hit it off. Two years after meeting at the facility and a four-moth gestation period, Kanha gave birth to three lion cubs named Kali, Sita and Sonika.

Rearing Triplets in Isolation

True to their nature, Kanha reared the triplets in seclusion for two months. Park staff had to steer away from the birthing pen and just observe the animals via CCTV as lionesses usually reject their babies when disturbed.

Meanwhile, Rana, their father, lived in a separate enclosure but was always nearby. The park reports that this week, the three lion cubs have been introduced to their father, and the two are showing "exceptional" parenting skills.

"Our young pair are proving to be exemplary parents and although there was some trepidation when we reintroduced the Lioness and her cubs to the male, all went without a hitch and they can now be seen playing happily families in their enclosure," said Craig.

Fast Facts on Asiatic Lions

Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica) are one of the rarest species of big cats because of extinction. These big cats originated from South West Asia but can now only be seen in India's Gir Forest. The said forest was once a royal hunting ground but is now an important area for the endangered species.

The National Geographic says the once-thriving species is rapidly dwindling with only 200 to 260 left in the wild to survive.

In 2000, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added Asiatic lions to its list of critically endangered species due to a decline in population caused by trophy hunting and habitat destruction, BBC reports.

There has been an increase in the population of Asiatic lions in recent years However, environmentalist Takhubhai Sansur says their safety in the wild still poses a threat to species survival.

"Lion numbers have increased, but the challenge is their safety. About 40 [percent] of the total lion population now lives outside the forest area," he said.

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