A spot of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of eight lion cubs as they ventured outside for the first time.
The eight cubs – four males and four females – were born in August but they had not been allowed to join the rest of the pride at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire until now.
They certainly made up for lost time and even the pouring rain did not seem to be a problem for the youngsters, who played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful gaze of mothers Nikata and Louisa.
Both the first-time mothers have impressed keepers with their attentive behaviour, although they are less patient when it comes to humans.
“Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs,” said keeper Bob Trollope. “However, they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us.”
Within minutes of being released, the cubs were covered in mud and leaves and were taking it in turns to try to balance their way along a slippery fallen tree trunk. Several of the braver individuals even began perfecting their ambush skills on their mother, although they were rather more cautious with their father Hugo.