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Maintaining the genetic health of putative Barbary lions in captivity: an analysis of Moroccan Royal Lions.

Black, Simon A., Yamaguchi, Nobuyuki, Harland, Adrian, Groombridge, Jim J. (2009) Maintaining the genetic health of putative Barbary lions in captivity: an analysis of Moroccan Royal Lions. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 56 (1). pp. 21-31. ISSN 1612-4642. (doi:10.1007/s10344-009-0280-5) (KAR id:27502)

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Official URL:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10344-009-0280-5

Abstract

The last representatives of the Barbary lion

(Panthera leo leo), once numerous in North Africa but

exterminated from the wild by the 1940s, are believed to be

the captive lions descended from the Moroccan Royal

Collection, numbering less than 90 animals in zoos

worldwide. The genetic fitness of these captive “Royal

Lions” may now be under threat since, although most zoos

have avoided hybridisation with animals of other origin, no

formal breeding programme currently exists and several

institutions have halted breeding activities. This situation

has arisen since the distinctiveness of Barbary lions and the

representative status of Royal Lions remain inconclusive

and definitive molecular studies have yet to be completed.

Previously, in the 1970s, morphological and phenotypic

traits were used to match Royal Lions and the historic

Barbary lion and an ex situ breeding programme was

initiated involving a number of selected “founder” animals.

This paper outlines the status of the descendent population

within zoos in Morocco and Europe, including all known

pure-bred descendents from the Royal Palace collection.

Founder representation is shown to be greater across

European collections than the Moroccan collection. Breeding

exchanges are recommended between institutions in

order to improve genetic diversity and maintain the genetic

health of the population and a studbook for European zoo

animals has been developed to support this action. This

analysis serves as a benchmark for guiding effective

maintenance of the captive population, thereby allowing

time to clarify the conservation value of Royal Lions and

their relevance to North African ecology.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10344-009-0280-5
Subjects: Q Science
Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Jim Groombridge
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 16:36 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:05 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/27502 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Groombridge, Jim J.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6941-8187
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