ROME: A Rome zoo showed off two lions cubs on Friday, both born during the city's long coronavirus lockdown.
Staff said the sisters were the first Asiatic lions born at Bioparco zoo since it started keeping the endangered species 22 years ago.
"A true symbol of hope and resurgence," Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi said as she welcomed the news.
Seven-year-old mother Sajani and four-year-old father Ravi looked on as the cubs posed for pictures. At one point they had a play fight with their mother's tail before she whisked it away.
The zoo said it was planning to launch a social media campaign to ask people to name the cubs.
Sajani gave birth on April 29, her own birthday.
"We saw just two days before that she was behaving kind of strange, and we suspected she was pregnant," keeper Yitzhak Yadid said.
Staff only knew for sure the cubs had survived when they heard small yelps coming from Sajani's enclosure
"Not all mothers can succeed usually the first time that they give birth. She's a very, very good mother," Yadid said.
(Reporting by Antonio Denti and Emily Roe; Writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Andrew Heavens)