Pride of place at Paradise Wildlife Park, Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 17:23 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:23 20 February 2013
A new arrival at Paradise Wildlife Park has been causing quite a stir. Clare Bourke went along to find out what all the fuss was about
WHAT could be more amazing than the sight of a 10-week-old lion cub playing in a garden just like a kitten? That was the reality of an invitation to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne to meet - and cuddle - the zoo's latest arrival.
When I met lion cub Zara on July 20 she was just 10 weeks old. Born at Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, she was taken in by Paradise after her mother rejected her, leaving Angela Sampson to step into the role of foster mum at the family-run zoo.
As Angela explains, 'It was her mum's first litter and it is not uncommon for them not to be able to rear their own. When they are young they don't know what to do - they are having more fun playing than trying to rear cubs. There were two cubs - Zara's little brother didn't make it.'
Angela is no stranger to raising cubs - she has already reared more than 20 at her home in the park, five of them at one time, so Zara is not proving too much of a challenge. 'I have had jaguar and wolf cubs but it is 10 years since I have had a lion cub. She's on milk formula and needs a feed every three hours as well as two meat feeds a day, minced meat with formula, but she does go through the night.'
'She's very playful - like any puppy or kitten she has her mad half hour and then flakes out'
And when Zara is running around the house and garden? 'She's very playful - like any puppy or kitten she has her mad half hour and then flakes out. She will only be in the house for a few more weeks as she is getting too destructive. It is like having a toddler in the house - having to make sure doors are shut and you don't leave things lying around, making sure you cover up the plug sockets.'
Zara has been going out into a public enclosure for a few hours each day so visitors can see her and will soon be in her own enclosure all the time as she gets bigger.
So what does the future hold for the young cub? 'Zara will be staying at the park until she is a year old when she will be sent to a reserve in Uganda. We can't keep her here and they are desperate for lion cubs,' explains Angela. 'The reserve doesn't have very many and they are anxious to introduce new blood lines. But they have to pay for them and can't afford it so Paradise is funding the costs of Zara being taken over there and the upkeep for her food. We would like to do this on a more regular basis and introduce more lions over there.'
Paradise Wildlife Park, run by the Sampson family since 1984, helped establish the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, based in Kent, and is involved in animal conservation projects around the world.
Paradise Wildlife Park is open all
March 1 to October 31, 9.30am-6pm
November 1 to February 28, 10am-5pm
Paradise Wildlife Park
White Stubbs Lane
Broxbourne EN10 7QA