Hélios, one of the lions of the Amnéville (Moselle) zoo, died on October 11 at the age of 17.
The male had arrived in the animal park when he was very young and spent many years there.
"17 years old is a very high age for a lion, since it very rarely lives beyond 12 years in a natural environment," commented a zoo official quoted by Lorraine Actu.
The beast had become a father late.
He died a month and a half after the birth of his first two young, the female Senga and the male Akshan.
Helios designed them with a 12-year-old lioness named Isis.
The lion cubs "should leave here this week to know their new space, it will be a big step for them," said the zoo.
A widow and two orphans
There are no plans to introduce another male to Isis.
Such an arrival "may be dangerous for the little ones", said the specialists.
The lion would be likely to prey on the female's lion cubs.
Since the death of Helios, Isis therefore takes care of Senga and Akshan alone.
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