Christmas is for the young, and the royal family of Qatar has given the Denver Zoo quite a gift this season: triplet lion cubs that will turn 6-months-old on Christmas Eve.
Brothers Tsavo and Enzi and their sister, Sabi, are on display in the zoo's Predator Ridge exhibit until a permanent home for them can be determined, the Denver Zoo said Thursday.
Their stay in Denver is expected to last at least a few months.
Sheik Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, son of Qatar's ruling emir, received the triplets' parents as a gift from the country of Sudan a few years ago. They bred, and their mother died from complications afterwards, the zoo said.
The sheik asked zoos in the United States for help to better care for the cubs. The Denver Zoo became home to the royal family partly because its curator of large mammals, Hollie Colahan, also serves as coordinator for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Lion Species Survival Plan for lions placed in North American zoos.
Predator Ridge a has six adult lions, three male and three female, but these are the first lion cubs to live in the exhibit since 2006, the zoo stated.
Lions are endangered in the in west and central Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The kings of the jungle have lost 80 percent of their historic range, and less than 30,000 of them left in the wild, the Denver Zoo stated.
The Denver Zoo boasts about 3,800 animals and 650 species.