WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- For the first time in 15 years, a lioness named Kigali gave birth to two cubs at the Leipzig Zoo in eastern Germany on Friday.
- Initially, the lioness was observed to appear calm while taking care of her cubs. Suddenly, she ate them, to the dismay of zookeepers.
- Although experts say that lions in the wild are known to eat their cubs when they are underfed, it appears that such cases occur more frequently when in captivity.
Kigali, the lioness, gave birth for the first time to two cubs last Friday. Zoo officials at the Leipzig Zoo in eastern Germany said that initially, things were going on well with Kigali caring for them normally. Then, she devoured them.
Deutsche Welle reports that zookeepers were horrified by the behavior of the lioness whose cubs were the first to be born at the zoo in 15 years.
In a statement from the zoo, officials said that Kigali had appeared calm and had eaten regularly during the day. Then in the evening, as the ‘inexperienced’ lioness was grooming them, she suddenly and completely gobbled up the two cubs. The statement also wrote that it may be that the cubs were ill but autopsy can no longer be done because they were completely swallowed.
According to wildlife experts, it isn’t rare for lions in the wild to eat their cubs particularly if they are malnourished. However, it seems that it occurs more often in captivity.
Animal behavior expert, Maren Huck of the University of Derby says it is possible that the cubs have been behaving in a manner that the mother found strange.
“If their infant doesn’t respond as an infant should do, it’s not recognized as an infant and therefore the maternal instinct doesn’t kick in,” explains Huck to CNN. She also added that such cases more likely happen during captivity due to several contributing factors. ”It is well known that if animals in captivity are stressed, they are more likely to eat their cubs,” said Huck.
Despite the unfortunate incident, Huck said that it doesn’t mean that there are animal welfare issues existing at the zoo.