The three new born Asiatic Lion cubs recently born in Fota Wildlife Park. Photo: Darragh Kane

Mane news headlines

Well done mama Arya as she recently gave birth to 3 cubs whose dad is said to be a “very modern father”, Fota Wildlife Park has announced this morning.

Arya recently returned from Helsinki Zoo and was part of the first lion cub litter to be born at the Park. The six year old was paired with the male lion Yali, and their cubs were born on 5 June. Eight year old Yali is the most genetically significant Asiatic lion in the European Breeding Programme.

Lead ranger Julien Fonteneau, said: “We are overjoyed with the birth of Arya's cubs. Arya and Yali’s cubs are not just vital to our breeding programme but also to the global efforts in preserving the Asiatic lion population.

“In a first for Fota Wildlife Park, Yali was present at the birth of his three cubs, normally the male lions would not attend the birth of their young. One of our team members here quipped that Yali is a very modern father!”

The Asiatic lion is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and inhabits only one remaining site in the world, the Gir Forest in India, which means that wildlife parks and zoos play a crucial role in safeguarding the species. The current population in the Gir Forest is estimated to be in the region of 500 to 600 lions.

Julien said: “Although inexperienced, Arya is excelling as a new mother and is very protective. We have been monitoring the cubs daily and they all appear to be well fed and active. She has been caring for the cubs outdoors under the foliage and out of sight.

“Whenever it rains, she carries them to the heated lion shelter, which our visitors know well. While they are still very young and sleeping a lot, it is possible to catch a glimpse of them at the lion shelter.”

Born and raised at Fota Wildlife Park, Arya spent a few years at Helsinki Zoo, but was eventually ousted by the other lionesses. Earlier this year, Arya returned to her roots at Fota to live with her mother, Gira, and her aunt, Gita.

“Now, she has continued the lineage of Asiatic lions at Fota Wildlife Park. Her mate, Yali, who joined Fota in the summer of 2022, is a crucial figure in the European Breeding Programme due to the rarity of his DNA,” Julien added.