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A white lioness Tia plays with its newly-born cubs in their enclosure at a private zoo in the village of Dvorec, Czech Republic, July 12, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny(reuters_tickers)
DVOREC, Czech Republic (Reuters) - A zoo in the Czech Republic is celebrating the birth of quintuplet white lions, a rare breed on the verge of extinction in the wild.
The animals, four females and a male, were born on May 4 and are now 10 weeks old and healthy. Lions normally have two to three offspring in a litter, and quintuplets are extremely rare.
Zoo officials said that it had been challenging to get the kittens away from their mother in order to ensure that they were maintaining a healthy weight.
"Everyone can surely understand that to support all the five babies (young) is a hard task for the mother," zoo owner and keeper Viktor Ambroz told Reuters.
White lions are a genetic mutation unique to the Timbavati and Kruger National Park areas of southern Africa and became technically extinct for at least 12 years until being reintroduced to the wild in 2004.
There are believed to be fewer than 13 white lions left in the wild and only up to 300 in captivity, according to the Global White Lion Protection trust.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; editing by Mark Heinrich)