Freya Aspinall says she’s rearing two lion orphan cubs in her bedroom – after their mother died – and sleeps next to them every night
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Animal lover Freya Aspinall has revealed that she’s hand-raising two lion cubs after their own mother tragically died just days after they were born – and says she gets up at two hourly intervals in the night to feed them.
The 20-year-old conservationist, who is the daughter of Damian Aspinall and Donna Air, spent her childhood at her father’s wildlife parks in Kent and frequently shares photos of herself with the animals that live there on social media.
Now, Freya has revealed she’s sharing her life with the two adorable cubs, named Zemo and Zala.
Three weeks ago, she told her followers that the cubs have grown fast in her care, saying: ‘Not long until I can’t hold them both – they are 12-15kg each!’
She also told her 243,000 followers on Instagram that the cubs had lost their mother to a uterus infection just three days after their birth, explaining: ‘We have to hand raise them or they would have died. We will send them back to the wild where they belong.’
Freya Aspinall says she’s learning to speak ‘Lion’ after becoming mother to two orphaned cubs. The 20-year-old conservationist, who is the daughter of Damian Aspinall and Donna Air, has been caring for them since their mother died
In an interview with The Times, Aspinall said that grandiose Howletts House in Kent, owned by her father, is the animals’ current playground – and that she sets an alarm to feed them during the night.
She explained: ‘If anyone says the lions are humanised or domesticated, no. If anything, they lionise me. I literally become a lion – I speak lion. Hand-rearing is the last option possible, but I am their mother figure.’
The 20-year-old, who’s followed in her father’s footsteps, has shared photos of the animals she’s formed a close bond with over the years.
In 2021, she hand-raised another Lion, Azi, after he was rejected by his mother. She said at the time: ‘I was able to develop a completely natural relationship with him. No training, no taming. Pure love and trust.’
The gorgeous cubs, named Zemo and Zala, weigh around 15kg each and currently sleep near her bed
The conservationist has helped hand-rear animals before, including a lion named Azi who was rejected by his mother
The two cubs will stay with Aspinall at the Kent home until they’re old enough to be set free
Freya is the only daughter of Damian and Donna, was just 21 when she met and fell in love with the multimillionaire, who was 40 at the time.
They were introduced at a dinner party in 2000 by their mutual friend, former It Girl Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, and went on to have a seven-year relationship.
The couple famously hit the headlines when Freya was a baby, announcing they were planning to place their daughter in a gorilla enclosure at Damian’s animal park and allow her to be carried off by the female of the group.
It was a ritual Damian had carried out with his first two daughters, Tansy, 33, and Clary, 30, from his 15-year marriage to Louise Sebag-Montefiore.
‘We have to hand raise them or they would have died’ Aspinall says she’s happy playing mother to the two cubs until they can care for themselves
Damian has carried on the legacy of his late father John Aspinall who encouraged close contact between animals and keepers at Kent park Howletts and its sister site Port Lympne.
Damian’s dad John bought Howletts with his gambling winnings in 1956 and moved his family there from central London.
Following his father’s death, Damian has has managed the parks through the John Aspinall Foundation, a charity named for his father.
Now Freya has entered the family business, with Damian and Donna backing their daughter’s decision to drop out of school and follow him into conservation.
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