Zoo staff 'shocked and sad' after lioness eats own cubs

Kigali is shown with her cubs after giving birth at Zoo Leipzig. Source: Facebook/Zoo Leipzig

A lioness living in a zoo has killed and eaten her two newborn cubs.

The pair, who were the first to be born at Germany’s Zoo Leipzig in 15 years, were alive for just one day before being killed by their mother, the zoo wrote on Facebook.

The first-time mother, named Kigali, had been displaying usual motherly instincts, staff at the zoo said, and was grooming her cubs when she turned on them.

A spokesperson from the zoo said Kigali showed no unusual behaviour leading up to the event, and had been eating normally throughout the day, CNN reported.

The father of the cubs, Majo, is shown inside his enclosure. Source: Facebook/Zoo Leipzig

Staff were “shocked and sad” about the deaths according to the Facebook post, which explained it wouldn’t be able to find out if the cubs were sick prior to dying.

Animal behavioural ecology expert Dr Maren Huck, from the University of Derby, said it wasn’t unlikely for a lioness to eat her young in the wild.

“If the cubs themselves behave strangely, that might be a reason for animals to eat their offspring,” Dr Huck said.

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She added illness or developmental issues in the cubs may have caused their mother to lose her maternal instinct.

The zoo said Kigali would be placed back into an enclosure with the father of her cubs, Majo.

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