Wounded pride as rare lion cubs get 
the needle

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Any youngster receiving their vaccinations might be expected to throw a tantrum and this feisty lion cub put on quite a show during a visit by the vet.

It was one of four rare lion cubs at Paignton Zoo, in Devon, to receive routine vaccinations at nine weeks.

The cubs, who are yet to be named, will get their second round of injections at 12 weeks and are then given annual boosters, just like any domestic moggy.

The procedure may be routine, but it takes a team of five to give the four their injections as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Staff at the zoo said it was a thrill to be up close and personal with the cubs, but at the same time they had to follow safety protocols – keepers wear big leather gauntlets to protect them from the cubs who snarled throughout in disapproval, while the growls of their mother Indu echoed from the den.

Giving the cubs their vaccinations were two members of Paignton Zoo’s in-house vet team, Catherine Bergzoll and Celine Campana, plus mammal keepers Helen Neighbour and Dave Rich, as senior head keeper Matthew Webb co-ordinated the operation.

“We use a cat vaccine – the process is essentially the same as for pet cats,” Ms Bergzoll said. “We also give them a thorough exam to check things like their hearts.”

After the cubs were vaccinated, micro-chipped and given a quick health check they were reunited with their protective mother who was prowling nearby.

The cubs weighed between 7.6 and 8.8 kilos (16 to 19 pounds) – far more than your average adult domestic cat, which would tip the scale at around four or five kilograms (between 8 and 11 pounds).