Three rare Barbary lion cubs born at zoo venture outside to play

Three rare Barbary lion cubs born at zoo venture outside to play
Barbary lion cubs play in their enclosure (Petr David Josek/AP)

Three Barbary lion cubs have been born at a Czech zoo.

The births are 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 in July in the Dvur Kralove park.

A Barbary lion walks with her cubs in their zoo enclosure (Petr David Josek/AP)
Barbary lion Khalila with one of her cubs (Petr David Josek/AP)

They took their first steps in an outdoor enclosure this week under the careful supervision of their mother, Khalila. They are yet to be named.

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.

Barbary lion cubs play in their enclosure (Petr David Josek/AP)
Mother Khalila rests her foot on one of her cubs (Petr David Josek/AP)

It is 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 programme that co-ordinates efforts for their survival in captivity.

Currently, their global population is estimated at around 100.

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