Two of four cubs born at the zoo three weeks ago have taken up residence alongside the Robinson family, spending their days reclining on the couch and dozing on the lounge room floor.
Maddi is happy to do her bit by helping keep the cubs entertained and it’s they, not the two-year-old, who must keep their wits about them.
“At the moment she’s a bit rough with them. We’re always telling her to be gentle but it won’t be long before they turn the tables,” mother Stephanie Robinson told AAP.
Like Maddi, the cubs need constant care and attention, says her mum Stephanie Robinson, who owns the Darling Downs Zoo midway between Toowoomba and Warwick.
“The cubs are on two-hourly feeds, and we’re also caring for a four-day-old black cockatoo,” says the sleep deprived mum. “So everybody has to pitch in and help.”
The two cubs were born a day apart, one to a mum who had a single cub, the other to a second lioness who bore three.
The lone cub’s mother wasn’t producing enough milk, so the Robinsons decided to care for it at home and, to ensure it had a mate, also took one of the litter of three.
The cubs are the first to be bred at the zoo since 2003, when it was still at Barcaldine. The zoo has had breeding success over the years, producing some 16 tawny African lions.
The two cubs will stay in the family home for as long as it’s safe. “It depends on their personalities. Some we’ve cared for for nearly two years, (while) others are out with the other lions at four months,” Mrs Robinson says.
“The cubs have only just got teeth starting to come through, so the trashing hasn’t started yet.”
“They’ve just starting to get a playful personality and play tug of war, but at the moment they’re still pretty babyish.”
Her husband Steve Robinson says the zoo’s breeding program will help ensure African lions continue to be present in Australian zoos.
“African lions are now threatened in the wild, with only about 25,000 remaining,” he said. “These little cubs will one day play an important role in ensuring that the species remains in Australian zoos.”Â [via MSNÂ and Yahoo!]