DUBLIN Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a very special baby.
The Asian lion cub born to mum Zuri and dad Kumar is the latest addition to a critically endangered species.
Zoo team leader Ciaran McMahon said the baby lion is bonding well with his dad and four-year-old first-time mum Zuri.
"We're thrilled about the arrival of the cub. He has a wonderfully playful and curious personality.
"It's lovely to see Zuri taking to her role as a new mum so well and Kumar is as cool as ever."
Kumar came to Dublin Zoo from Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands in April of last year.
He is almost eight years old and joined lioness sisters Zuri and Sita who came from Mulhouse Zoo in France.
Kumar is about 35 times heavier than a domestic cat and, according to his keepers, has a "really laid-back attitude".
His new son, weighing 6.6kg after two months, has no name yet and Dublin Zoo has invited the public to come up with a name based on the cub's Asian origin.
Name suggestions can be submitted through the Dublin Zoo Facebook page www.facebook.com/dublinzoo.
The birth is a significant milestone for both Dublin Zoo and the international breeding programme, which is fighting to preserve the Asian lion species.
There are less than 350 Asian lions in the wild and the entire wild population is found in the Gir Forest in India. The new cub's birth confirms Dublin Zoo's global position as a breeding zoo.
Last month the zoo's latest baby Asian elephant was born and two more elephant births are expected later this year.
Asian elephants are also endangered and it is estimated that only 30,000 to 40,000 exist in the wild.
The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is attempting to restore additional wild populations with captive-bred animals.
The state of Gujarat is resisting this as they wish to retain their unique status as the only home of wild Asian lions.