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A rainy day out for the lion cubs of Longleat

The two mums keep a watchful eye on their youngsters as they take a tour of their muddy enclosure. Photo: Longleat

It wasn't the best day to choose for a first outing into the wild but the eight lion cubs born at Longleat this August took to the mud and wet of the Wiltshire safari park like, well, ducks to water.

The four males and four females had been kept away from the rest of the pride until now but they stepped out with relish, despite the pouring rain.

Autumn leaves and winter weather are a far cry from the heat of Africa - but these young lions took it all in their stride Credit: Longleat

The youngsters played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful eyes of mums Nikata and Louisa.Both the first-time mums have impressed keepers with their attentive behaviour, although they are less patient when it comes to humans.

Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs.

However they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us!

– Bob Trollope, Keeper
Keeping watch over their young - the lionesses will protect their little ones from whatever predators Wiltshire has to offer Credit: Longleat

The eightsome may seem cute now but they're growing fast. They weighed just a kilogramme at birth and are already eight times that and - in two to three years' time when they're full grown - they'll tip the scales at 200 kgs.

It'll be up to their dad Hugo, along with their mums Nikata and Louisa, to guide them to adulthood, overseen by the keepers at Longleat.

A noble - if muddy - stare caught on camera. This outing is an important first for the cubs on their journey to adulthood Credit: Longleat