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Lion cubs give Port Lympne a new year lift

Litter attracts large online audience, but it will be a while before we can see them close up

There is much excitement at the Port Lympne reserve near Hythe where they have welcomed in the new year in style. A couple of days ago one of its lions gave birth to a litter of three cubs* and the special event gained a big online audience of 22,000.

The moment lioness Oudrika gave birth to the cubs was live streamed to an adoring audience on Wednesday morning. Keepers at Port Lympne had been eagerly awaiting news of the birth and were delighted when the adorable cubs made their appearance.

The live stream attracted Port Lympne’s largest ever audience to its popular ‘Cub Cam’ with more than 22,000 viewers checking the feed on Wednesday alone to witness the new arrivals being welcomed by their curious older siblings. Donations to support the cubs have started to come in from around the world following a call for support while the facility remains closed.

Oudrika and her babies are all doing well and father, Adras, is also watching over the pride from a distance. The sex of the babies is currently unknown, as the lioness is understandably keeping a very close eye on her new arrivals.

Second time parents, Adras and Oudrika, welcomed three cubs back in May 2019, which was the first time lions had been born at Port Lympne in more than 10 years.

Richard Barnes, animal manager, comments: “After a tough 2020, the birth of lion cubs at Port Lympne is a wonderful start to 2021. The whole team has been glued to Cub Cam all day. When Oudrika’s first litter was born, visitors were keen to catch a glimpse of the cubs.

“Our latest arrivals are just as adorable, and we are sorry that – due to the nationwide lockdown – we cannot invite families to the reserve to see our new family of lions just yet. We look forward to being able to welcome visitors again as soon as it is appropriate to do so.”

The cubs are currently being nursed in a den, which is being broadcast live on the park’s YouTube channel 24 hours a day. The births and key moments from the cubs’ first day have been uploaded to the channel as unmissable catch up videos.

Big cat lovers who want to support the pride can send virtual care packages or adopt the Port Lympne lions via the reserve’s online shop.

When Port Lympne reopens to overnight guests, those staying in the exclusive Lion Lodges which adjoin the enclosure are likely to have a prime view once the cubs begin to explore their expansive enclosure. Alternatively, Port Lympne’s rustic Pinewood glamping pods are located opposite the lion’s habitat and are available throughout 2021 with prices starting from just £139.

Short breaks are open for 2021. To book visit here: https://www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne/short-breaks

*Saturday update: Sadly, one of the cubs has passed away. What a bummer!

A statement from the reserve says: During the early hours of Saturday morning, the pride noticed that one of the new cubs was unresponsive. An attempt was made to stimulate the cub, but sadly it did not make it.

We do not wish to intervene and remove cubs from the den at this time. We obviously want Oudrika to raise her cubs and will only step in if pride members abandon a cub or their behaviour becomes reckless, which is has not.

Richard Barnes comments: “Our team is reviewing all footage at the moment. The situation in the den remains calm and we will continue to monitor closely. We have chosen to share these precarious early days with the world and, unfortunately, this is the stark reality of nature which we so rarely get to see so closely.”

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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