A week ago a lioness gave birth to the male and female cubs at the Ukutula Game Reserve & Conservation Centre in South Africa – the first time it had been achieved through artificial insemination.
Researchers at the University of Pretoria pioneered the fertilisation programme and the two youngsters, above, have been given a clean bill of health.
It is hoped the breakthrough may lead to the successful IVF breeding of endangered big cats such as the tiger, snow leopard and Iberian lynx.
Main researcher Dr Isabel Callealta said: “The next step is to continue looking for the right protocols for the large feline species, which is good news for endangered big cats.”
The birth of the world’s first test tube lion cubs (Image: JAMIE PYATT )
They are happy, healthy and playful – and leading us a merry dance
The owner of Ukutula Game Reserve & Conservation Centre Willi Jacobs, 60, said: “They are both absolutely perfect cubs in every way.
"They are happy, healthy and playful – and leading us a merry dance.
"We decided to honour the researcher Isabella by naming the female cub after her and the male after her fiance Victor.”