Watch: First video and images of newborn endangered lion cubs at Edinburgh Zoo

Images show the cubs being nursed by mum Roberta.
Images show the cubs being nursed by mum Roberta.
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A litter of endangered lion cubs has been born at Edinburgh Zoo, it has been announced.

At just three-weeks old, the Asiatic cubs are still being nursed by mum Roberta and are not yet on view to the public.

Less than 350 Asiatic lions are thought to be left in the wild.

Less than 350 Asiatic lions are thought to be left in the wild.

Webcam footage shows the three cubs playing and following Roberta around the enclosure as dad Jayendra prowls around in the background.

Staff at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said they were "delighted" by the news but say the coming months are crucial, but sadly confirmed two of the litter did not survive.

Alison MacLean, the zoo’s head of carnivores, said: “Mum and cubs are doing well and we are thrilled, though we remain cautious as this is still a very delicate stage, with two of the litter sadly not having survived."

“Public viewing is therefore closed at the moment to give the family lots of peace and quiet.

“The three cubs will be weighed and sexed during their first health check in the coming weeks. We will also name them shortly after.

“Their dad Jayendra is being very affectionate and will stay with Roberta and her youngsters.”

Jayendra arrived in Edinburgh from Bristol Zoo in 2012, with Roberta following from Magdeburg Zoo in Germany two years later.

Asiatic lions are generally smaller than their African cousins and develop less of a a substantial mane, making their ears more characteristically visible.

The species once found a home in Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, however a combination of poaching, habitat destruction and conflict with humans mean there are now just 350 left in the wild.

But it is now hoped this latest litter can help to revive some of the population.

Alison added: “Asiatic lions previously existed across southwest Asia but are now only found in Gir Forest in India.”

“Roberta and Jayendra are part of the European endangered species programme, with every birth being a potential lifeline and increasing the possibility of future generations being reintroduced into the wild.”