Animals

By Harriet Whitehead


These playful big cats appear to be indulging in a game of lion leapfrog during zoo playtime.

The Asiatic lions were spotted vaulting over each other during a play fight session at Paignton Zoo in Devon last month.

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Photos snapped by a zoo regular show lioness Maliya getting jumped on by her 20-month-old daughter Arya in scenes reminiscent of the popular childhood game leapfrog.

Paignton Zoo’s pride of rare Asiatic lions include two cubs born in June 2016 – male Yali and his sister Arya, mum Maliya and dad Lucifer, who is 15.

Five year old Maliya and her mum Indu, 14, who were born at the zoo, complete the group.

Paignton Zoo spokesman Phil Knowling said even predators like to play with their children although it can get rougher as they get older.

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Phil said: “Yali and Arya had been chasing and playing with their mother and other members of the pride.

“They spend most of their time asleep, but they generally become more active before a feed.”

It’s thought that fewer than 300 Asiatic lions survive in the wild in the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary in India.

There are conservation breeding programmes in zoos, including a European Endangered species Programme (EEP), of which Paignton Zoo is part.