By Nikki Ekstein
January 21, 2017
Sam Mushandu/ Wilderness Safaris

Great news is coming out of Zimbabwe this week, as Wilderness Safaris staffers in Hwange National Park have identified a litter of three cubs grandfathered by Cecil the Lion. The cubs are estimated to be four months in age, and were fathered by Xanda, one of Cecil’s first born. (According to researchers on the ground, only tracked members of the pride have names—an effort to avoid anthropomorphizing them—so the cubs can be referenced as simply cute, cute, and cuter.)

Until the cubs are about three years old, they’ll remain vulnerable to natural threats like buffalo, leopard, hyena, or snake attacks. But luckily for this bunch, there are no competing pride leaders nearby, ruling out one of the worst threats to newborn lions.

Sam Mushandu/ Wilderness Safaris

All signs point to a safe upbringing for the three little guys: while mom is away hunting, another lioness has been taking dutiful care of them for up to 24 hours at a time. To help the cubs fend for themselves a bit better, the Wilderness Wildlife Trust has deployed an ex-ranger and patrol vehicle to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the neighboring villages and keep potential poachers at bay. In recent days, guides from Wilderness’ Linkwasha Camp, in Hwange, have spotted the cubs feasting on wildebeest and chasing jackals and vultures—exactly what critters their age should be doing.