This is the lioness who ate her newborn cubs – the first to be born at a zoo for 15 years – just days after they came into the world.
Five-year-old Kigali had given birth to the two lion cubs at Leipzig Zoo in the city of Leipzig in the eastern German state of Saxony.
At first all seemed to be going well. Kigali appeared to be a proud mum, feeding, cleaning and caring for her babies as normal.
But she suddenly turned on the cubs and ate them while cleaning their fur when they were just three days old.
Jens Hirmer, who manages the lion enclosures at the zoo, said: “We are shocked and really cannot explain it. Kigali had been doing everything right.
“Kigali and the cubs had been watched around the clock on CCTV cameras.”
A post mortem will not be possible as the two cubs were completely eaten and no remains were left.
A zoo spokesperson added: “Unfortunately this happens in the animal world from time to time. Mothers eat their offspring, particularly so when it is their first born.
“Possible reasons can be the mother’s lack of experience or a problem in the development of the offspring.”
Kigali is being kept in the birth enclosure for now and in a few days will be reunited with the father of the cubs, four-year-old Majo, who did not get to meet his offspring. The zoo has no plans to breed from Kigali again.
The spokesperson said: “This was Kigali’s first birth, it is always a particular risk. We do not want to risk further births. This is not being planned.”
Leipzig Zoo first opened in 1878 and is internationally renowned for its large enclosures. It has bred more than 2,000 lions in the past.
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