SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Hundreds of Sarajevan children queued impatiently on Friday for their first glimpse of a six-week-old lion cub, born after the city zoo last year received its first lions since its previous inhabitants perished in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
The cub, which has yet to be named, pounced and played with its eight-year-old mother, Sarajcica.
Zookeepers are unsure yet whether it is male or female. Mother and cub are kept most of the time in a secluded den until a first medical check-up after two months.
“My grandson couldn’t sleep from excitement last night,” visitor Sevda Katica said.
Huge interest accompanied the return of lions to Sarajevo zoo last year, for many a sign of a city returning to normal after a siege that killed more than 10,000 people.
The zoo was on the frontline of the war; residents reported hearing the roar of lions through the night, before they died like the zoo’s other residents from shrapnel or starvation.
The zoo reopened in 1997 after the area was cleared of landmines and unexploded mortar rounds, and now attracts around 500,000 visitors per year.
One of two donated lions died shortly after arriving in Sarajevo and was replaced by Sarajcica, a gift from Slovenia.
Zoo veterinarian Vedad Kapur said the lion cub was doing well.
“I’d say it’s a female by the way the lioness massages its belly after breastfeeding,” but he said confirmation would come in two weeks.
Kapur said the six-year-old father, Rily, was being kept at a safe distance until the family establishes a stronger bond.
Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Michael Roddy and Alison Williams