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3 rare Barbary lion cubs born in Czech zoo park

Barbary lion cubs played in their enclosure at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, on Thursday.
Barbary lion cubs played in their enclosure at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, on Thursday.Petr David Josek/Associated Press

DVUR KRALOVE, Czech Republic (AP) — Three Barbary lion cubs have been born in a Czech zoo, a vital contribution to a small surviving population of the rare lion subspecies that is extinct in the wild.

The triplets, all female, were born on July 5 in the Dvur Kralove park. They have taken their first steps in their outdoor enclosure this week under the careful supervision of their mother, Khalila. They are yet to be named.

A Barbary lion Khalila walked with her cubs in their enclosure.
A Barbary lion Khalila walked with her cubs in their enclosure.Petr David Josek/Associated Press

One of the biggest lion subspecies, which once roamed its native northern Africa, Barbary lions were almost completely wiped out due to human activities. Many were killed by gladiators in Roman times, while hunting contributed to their extinction later.

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Barbary lion cubs played.
Barbary lion cubs played.Petr David Josek/Associated Press

It’s believed Barbary lions went extinct in the wild in the middle of the 1960s. Only a few dozen survived in the collection of the King of Morocco.

The Czech zoo is part of a pan-European endangered species program that coordinates efforts for their survival in captivity.

Khalila walked with her cubs.
Khalila walked with her cubs.Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Currently, their global population is estimated at around 100.

Petr David Josek/Associated Press
Petr David Josek/Associated Press
Khalila rested her foot on one of her cub.
Khalila rested her foot on one of her cub.Petr David Josek/Associated Press
A Barbary lion Khalila walks with one of her cubs in their enclosure at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Three Barbary lion cubs have been born in a Czech zoo, a welcome addition to a small surviving population of a rare majestic lion subspecies that has been extinct in the wild. Three females that have yet to be named were born on July 5 in the Dvur Kralove safari park. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A Barbary lion Khalila walks with one of her cubs in their enclosure at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Three Barbary lion cubs have been born in a Czech zoo, a welcome addition to a small surviving population of a rare majestic lion subspecies that has been extinct in the wild. Three females that have yet to be named were born on July 5 in the Dvur Kralove safari park. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)Petr David Josek/Associated Press