Date: 08 Aug 2018
Our famous lion, Lily, has recently welcomed another cub in her new home in Olomouc Zoo.
The latest arrival was born in May 2018.
Lily is a Barbary lion and was born at Belfast Zoo on 3 June 2007. After being rejected by her natural mother, Lily was hand-reared and lived with senior keeper, Linda Frew, her husband, Sam and three sons, David, Samuel and Richard in their family home on the outskirts of Belfast. In the early stages of Lily’s life she had to be fed every 2 to 3 hours and slept in Linda’s bedroom.
The aim was always to ensure that Lily did not become too humanised, so that she would integrated with other lions in the future. Lily was therefore introduced to Keepa, a Japanese Akita dog to help her develop her animal instincts. A Japanese Akita was used as it is a confident and brave animal. They are also the most feline of the dog species and have many cat like mannerisms. They also have a thick coat to provide protection against Lily’s sharp teeth and claws during play sessions.
Barbary lions are extinct in the wild and Belfast Zoo is part of a collaborative breeding programme. Lily lived at Belfast Zoo for a few years before moving to the Czech Republic in August 2009 to meet a male named Simon. The pair then moved to Olomouc Zoo together and have since welcomed several lion cubs.
Linda Frew, explains “Raising Lily was an incredible experience that was so unique and special. While it was hard work, it was so rewarding and I am always delighted to hear news about her life in her new home. The decision to hand-rear Lily was not made lightly and the aim was always to let her grow up to be able to live with other lions and to hopefully breed. We are delighted that Lily has gone on to form her own family in her new home and that she has contributed towards the conservation of this extinct lion species. Prior to the latest cub, Lily has had three sets of twins, born in 2010, 2012 and 2013. It is even more incredible that Lily has reared each of her cubs herself, which is rare for first time mums and especially those who have been hand-reared. Lily will always hold a special place in my heart and has had a lasting impact on my family as my son David has since become a zoo keeper in another UK zoo.”
Belfast Zoo is home to three Barbary lions including Lily’s dad, Qays and her mum, Fidda.
Thank you to Hana Douglasova and Katerina Jisova for sharing the photos of Lily and her cubs with us!
Read more about Lily
Can't visit Lily in Olomouc Zoo? View her and her cub here.