Lioness eats her newborn cubs alive
Zookeepers have been left shocked after a lioness ate her two newborn cubs just three days after giving birth.
All appeared to be going well for first-time mum Kigali, 5, who gave birth to two cubs last Friday. The pair were the first to be born at Germany's Leipzig Zoo in 15 years.
But on Monday, things took a morbid twist. While grooming her newborns she suddenly killed and ate them.
The zoo took to Facebook to announce the deaths, saying it was "shocked and sad"
"The virgin mother first took care of her boys before she suddenly ate the two babies completely during the fur care," the Facebook post read.
An autopsy to determine whether the infants were ill or had developmental issues will be impossible now that they've been devoured, zoo officials said.
Kigali would soon be returned to the main enclosure to be resocialised with Majo, the male lion who fathered the cubs.
Leipzig Zoo spokesperson Maria Saegebarth told CNN: "This is a kind of natural behaviour as it happens in nature, too."
University of Derby animal behavioural ecology lecturer Maren Huck told the media outlet that while lionesses sometimes gobbled down their cubs in the wild, it happened more frequently in captivity.
"If the cubs themselves behave strangely, that might be a reason for animals to eat their offspring," Huck told CNN.
"If their infant doesn't respond as an infant should do, it's not recognised as an infant and therefore the maternal instinct doesn't kick in.
"It is more likely in captivity because there are more factors that would contribute. It is well known that if animals in captivity are stressed, they are more likely to eat their cubs."
However, Ms Huck said the event did not indicate there was animal welfare issues at the zoo.
"They would have to check carefully whether it happens again, particularly whether the same female does it again," she said.
"If it doesn't happen again, it's more likely due to inexperience of the mother, or health problems in the infant."