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Lion cub raised in living room leaves home

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Lion cub raised in living room leaves home
Zookeeper Isabelle Wallpott with Malor. Photo: DPA
14:44 CEST+02:00
Malor has lived at home with a zookeeper in the Eifel mountains for the last five months. Now the little lion cub is about to be reintroduced to his mother.

"He has turned from a tiny little baby lion into a big cat. You can see it and you notice it," said Isabelle Wallpott, the director of Eifel Zoo in Rhineland-Palatinate, who has been looking after the cub since his mother rejected him at birth.

Now five months old and weighing in at 5 kilos, Malor drinks a couple of bottles of milk a day and polishes of around 1.5 kilograms of meat.

"He thinks for himself now," says Walpott, explaining that he is constantly testing his boundaries.

But except for a couple of scratches, the zookeeper herself hasn't been on the receiving end on anything too sharp.

Malor's arrival into the world came as something of a surprise to the zookeepers in Eifel. No one had noticed that the lioness Lira was pregnant.

Zookeepers found the cub weak and motionless in Lira's enclosure and rescued it when they noticed its mother wasn't looking after it. Walpott then took it upon herself to raise him.

Gallery: Watch Malor grow from cub into big cat

But in the late summer the zookeeper will slowly reintroduce the young cat to its natural mother.

At first malor will be put in an enclosure next to his mother for an hour or two a day so that the two felines can sniff each other and become accustomed to one another's company.

The rest of the time the little cub will still spend with the zookeeper. But this heartwarming partnership of woman and beast is coming to an end.

"In October the cord needs to be cut," said Wallpott.

By the end of the year she hopes to have Malor living full-time in an enclosure with Lira.

In the meantime Wallpott has been taking Malor into the zoo for short 'meet and greets' with the public.

Thousands of people have already come to gaze at the little cub, she says.

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