The first lions cubs to be bred successfully in Cambodia are doing well at their new home in Phnom Tamao Zoo in Takeo province, wildlife officials said Tuesday.
The two cubs, one female and one male, were born May 4 but have not yet been named, a process that may include contributions from local school children, said Matt Hunt, an animal husbandry specialist for NGO WildAid.
The cubs’ mother, an 8-year-old African lioness called Simau, was brought into Cambodia illegally from Russia in the mid-1990s. She was later brought to Tamao Zoo after wildlife protection officials received a tip that a lion was being kept in a house in Phnom Penh.
The cubs’ father, Paco, was brought in last year from a zoo in the US state of California as a companion for Simau. The then 3-year-old male was exchanged for a pair of rare Asiatic Fishing cats, also bred in captivity at Tamao zoo.
Gamekeepers hadn’t expected Simau’s pregnancy and, though overjoyed by the new additions, do not want the lioness to become pregnant again, Hunt said.
“It costs us a lot of money to feed them,” Hunt said. “A grown lion eats 5 kg of beef each day, which costs us around $12 per animal per day. We are quite happy with just one litter of cubs. We’ve got quite a nice family group here,” he said.
Tamao zoo has recently witnessed several successful breedings over the last few months. It has bred Gibbon apes, Asian sun bears and the rare Eldf deer—all native Cambodian species.