HDW ENTERPRISES &
Foothill Felines Bengals/Savannahs
The Barbary Lion (also known as the "Atlas Lion" or the "Nubian Lion") once roamed wild in North Africa (from Morocco to Libya) and into Egypt. However, in 1922, the last known Barbary Lion in the wild was shot in the Atlas Mountains. Until the last few decades, it was believed that this largest of the lion subspecies was also extinct in captivity. Amazingly, possible Barbary lions or direct descendants of the original Barbary Lion have been identified within some zoo and circus populations. After years of research into the science of the Barbary Lion and stories of surviving examples, WildLink International, in collaboration with Oxford University, began the International Barbary Lion Project. Scientists will use the latest DNA techniques to identify the DNA 'fingerprint' of the Barbary Lion subspecies. WildLink International has taken bone samples from remains of Barbary Lions in museums across Europe. These samples are to be returned to Oxford University where the science team is extracting the DNA sequence that identifies the Barbary as a separate lion subspecies. Although the Barbary is officially extinct, WildLink International had identified a handful of lions in captivity around the world that are descended from the original Barbary Lion. The royal lions in Temara Zoo in Rabat, Morocco are some of them. These descendants will be tested against the DNA fingerprint and the degree of any hybridisation (from crossbreeding due to the virtual extinction of the Barbary) can then be determined. The best candidates with the least amount of out-crossing will then enter a selective breeding program targeted to 'breed back' the Barbary Lion. The final phase of the project will be to release the lions into a National Park in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
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