A lion keeper has revealed the moment of shock when he was informed that two cubs had been born at his village enclosure, despite the lion being on contraception.
Reece Oliver, was playing football on March 1, when the game was interrupted so he could be told the news that two young lion cubs has just been delivered at the enclosure.
The 31-year-old who rescued the lion parents Rocky and Rora from captivity in Eastern Europe, says he provides the best life he can for them and will now look after the new girl arrivals, named Ruby and Rosie.
Reece also keeps a puma, squirrel monkeys and a tapir at the wildlife facility in Strelley, according to Nottinghamshire Live but has revealed the new arrivals were a huge shock.
“It was a big surprise, it was a pleasant one but we weren’t expecting or hoping for it. We had our suspicions but we were n’t sure whether she was ella, and we definitely did n’t think it would happen as soon as it did, ”Mr Oliver said.
“There were signs of it but we weren’t fully believing that it was happening, it’s hard to tell without going in and scanning her.
“I was actually out playing football and one of the keepers at the park rang me and said ‘there’s two babies that have just appeared’, the male sat with one of them and the other one had just been born.
“So after that it was all hands on deck, we got the male out and monitored them very closely. She [Rora] is a hand reared Lion and it’s very difficult sometimes for hand reared animals to take naturally to motherhood, but she’s been fantastic and we’ve been doing visual and physical checks to help.
The recent 1,000 square-meter extension cost £30,000 more than the initial 480 square-meter enclosure built to house lion Rocky, lioness Rora and Canadian puma Rogue. The enclosure in Strelley is now believed to rival some of Britain’s largest zoo lion enclosures.
Mr Oliver added: “We just built a new enclosure and we are hoping to bring them up as a pride. At the moment we have separated the male from the female and Rora is looking after them now and we will slowly introduce them together in a safe and secure way.
“The birth is a great landmark for this conservation facility and we are very happy that it has happened, it is something we are very proud of. Getting a wild animal to breed in a captive environment is great – we’re not actively trying to breed lions and we do have contraception that has seemed to have failed unfortunately, but we need to give them the best life.
“That’s not to say we won’t look at possible re-wilding, there’s many possibilities. We’ve got to think the next steps through now in terms of relocating too.”
Mr Oliver had previously outlined his hopes to open his big cat enclosure to the public in the future. After filming with former footballer and social media personality Kevin Stephens in February he said that he was looking to welcome the public to the enclosure on certain days to learn about the animals.
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