14 June 2024

Meet Mali, Syanii and Shanti!

Today, we're announcing the long-awaited names of our three 13-week-old Asiatic lion cubs. Boys Mali and Syanii and girl Shanti were born here at London Zoo on 13 March 2024 to seven-year-old mum, Arya, and 14-year-old dad Bhanu. 

The trio of names was provided by schoolchildren, supported by our corporate partner Liontrust, after schools across the UK submitted their thoughts for the very best names to suit these spirited cubs. The final three were decided on by Times Radio listeners, providing much-anticipated names to our young Asiatic lions.

For each of the names, the participating schoolchildren were asked to provide reasons for their chosen lion names: Latin-derived Mali alludes to the endangered status of Asiatic lions in the wild, while Syanii is a reinterpretation of the Bengali name Savani, and Shanti means “peace” in Indo-Aryan language Gujarati.

Asiatic lion cub at London Zoo
© Luke Capeling

The 13-week-old cubs have captured the hearts of our visitors and supporters, as the feisty trio grow from strength to strength, each developing distinct personalities. Our lion keepers have found Mali to be the group’s natural leader, being the first to take bold, inquisitive steps around his rural Indian-inspired paddock and leading the way for his more trepidatious siblings. Shanti is curious and playful, with an enthusiasm for climbing, while both boys have already proven themselves to be doting big brothers.

Asiatic lion cub at London Zoo
© Luke Capeling

“The addition of these three lion cubs to Bhanu and Arya’s family is hugely exciting for all of us at the zoo and a great conservation achievement”, said lion keeper Martin O’Sullivan. “Asiatic lions are an endangered species in the wild, with population numbers thought to be around 600-700, so three new lion cubs are a critical step toward building a strong reserve population to protect the species.

“The Asiatic lions here at London Zoo are sponsored by Liontrust, whose support for our work benefits the conservation breeding programme of this endangered species. Liontrust spearheaded a campaign to find names for these cubs, and we’re delighted by the results of the nationwide vote.”

Our visitors have been delighted to hear all three cubs practicing to roar – a load mewing sound which will develop as the cubs to continue to grow, reaching its impressive potential after two years of development.

Asiatic lion cubs play at London Zoo
© Luke Capeling

Throughout the first few months of the cubs’ lives, Arya has been watching her babies closely, allowing them to never wander too far. The cubs are continually hungry and demand food from Arya – a challenge she’s risen to well, as each cub is growing and building strength. Arya continues to keep Mali, Syanii and Shanti firmly within her sight, calling to each cub and bringing them back to her, if they wander too far away for her liking.

Visitors to London Zoo will be able to spot Bhanu, Arya and the three lion cubs at Land of the Lions.

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