Newly born Barbary lion cubs sit near their mother Khalila on Monday inside their enclosure at Dvur Kralove Zoo in Dvur Kralove nad Labem, Czech Republic. The subspecies is extinct in the wild. (David W. Cerny/Reuters)

Two Barbary lion cubs have been born in a Czech zoo, a welcome addition to a small surviving population of a rare lion subspecies that has been extinct in the wild.

The pair, one male and one female, were born May 10 in the Dvur Kralove park. Under the guidance of mother Khalila, they have taken their first steps in their enclosure in recent days. They have not yet been named.

Barbary lions, also known as Atlas lions, are the largest lion subspecies. An adult male weighs about 500 pounds and features a dark mane. The lions once roamed their native northern Africa (Morocco to Egypt) but were wiped out due to human activities. Many were killed by gladiators in Roman times. Hunting contributed to their extinction in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It’s believed Barbary lions went extinct in the wild in the 1960s.

Fewer than 100 are estimated to live in captivity.


The cubs — one male and one female — have yet to be named. (Petr David Josek/AP)