Lion cub enjoys home comforts

THERE may be three lions on the shirt, as the song goes, but there's also one on the sofa watching the game.Lion cub Safina, a recent arrival at Linton Zoo, near Haverhill, likes nothing better than to curl up in front of Match of the Day and catch up on the latest goings on in the Premiership.

THERE may be three lions on the shirt, as the song goes, but there's also one on the sofa watching the game.

Lion cub Safina, a recent arrival at Linton Zoo, near Haverhill, likes nothing better than to curl up in front of Match of the Day and catch up on the latest goings on in the Premiership.

Zoo co-owner Kim Simmons is currently hand-rearing the three-month-old cub at home, because her parents were too inexperienced to cope with their firstborn.

Safina, which means the beautiful one in Swahili, has adapted well to domestic life mixing with the resident cats and even managed to turn the tables on old clichés - the female of the pack lies on the sofa watching football, while a ginger male tom named Arnie does the cleaning.


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Ms Simmons said: “Safina's very playful and she loves to lie on the sofa watching the football, a lot of the cubs we have had to hand rear like the television, I don't know why, but they are entranced by it.

“Her father would sit and watch Eastenders from start to finish.”

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Arnie, meanwhile, has taken the young cub under is wing, and is looking after, grooming and making sure she's clean and safe.

“He likes to take care of her, and keep her clean,” said Ms Simmons, “I think it's maybe a ginger cat thing, as my friend's ginger cat is the same, he's very sweet, he looks just like Garfield.

“He's quite a dominant cat and likes to be in charge of things, but he's playful too, she comes lolloping out of the bush at him and he doesn't mind at all.”

The young lioness is growing up quickly and already has the run of the house, in a manner Ms Simmons described as being more like a dog than a cat.

She said: “Lion cubs are very house-trainable and she goes out into the garden when she needs the toilet, she plays out there a bit and comes back when she feels like it.”

Safira's father, Riziki, also had to be hand-reared, as he had been abandoned by his mother, as had her mother, Karla, but Ms Simmons was keen to point out that rearing wild animals in the home was only done under extreme circumstances where there was no other alternative, and it is a process not without its dangers.

She said: “You've got to remember they are wild animals and sooner or later they are going to have to go back to that environment.

“They will always be affectionate to the people who they knew when they were growing up, but that can be dangerous as it's hard to make them understand that you when they rub their head against yours it might hurt, and a 250lb lion sitting on your lap will crush you.”

Queen of the jungle, maybe, queen of the living room, definitely.

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