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Lions at London Zoo celebrate World Lion Day in style

August 9, 2018
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One of London Zoo's Asiatic lionesses, sisters Heidi, Indi or Rubi plays with a ball, a day ahead of World Lion Day in London, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. The pride will be celebrating conservation success as Asiatic lions numbers continue to increase. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — London Zoo’s lions are celebrating World Lion Day in style, boxing and biting colorful balls stuffed with the big-cat equivalent of catnip.

The pride showed off their play skills ahead of World Lion Day on Friday, battering the balls painted with vibrant colors inspired by the Indian State of Gujarat, home to the Asiatic lions.

The Zoological Society of London, which runs the zoo, is working on conservation efforts for the endangered Asiatic lions, to bolster numbers. There are only 600 left in the wild.

ZSL’s Mark Habben says the balls encourage lions “to use their incredible sense of smell to track it through their territory before using their sharp claws to tear into it - acting as a natural manicure for our lionesses.”

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