A Zimbabwe park is celebrating after the offspring of Cecil the lion gave birth to his "grand-cubs."
In July 2015, trophy hunter and Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil not too far from where the cubs were born in Hwange National Park, the Daily Mail reports.
The death of Cecil sparked international outrage and devastated park staff who, alongside an Oxford University research team, monitored the animal.
Staff were happy after learning Cecil’s son, Xanda, is now the father of 10 cubs, carrying on Cecil’s lineage.
A safari guide stumbled upon the litter of cubs.
“Whilst driving in the Back Pans area, we entered a long stretch of thick bush; it was impossible to see anything. Suddenly, as we took a bend, there were two large lionesses walking towards us,” safari operator Graham Simmonds said, recalling the moment he found the young lions.
It turned out both of the lionesses had mated with Xanda.
“We then saw not one, but 10, tiny cubs trailing their mother. It was an incredibly special sighting to watch the lioness moving her cubs to a new den; especially as the cubs were part of the Ngamo Pride which were fathered by Xanda, one of Cecil's surviving sons,” Simmonds added.
Park staff say Xanda has been seen chasing two male lions from the area, just as his father Cecil did.
Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil, has not been charged, the Star Tribune reports.
He has apologized, explaining he did not know the lion was Cecil.
“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he said.
In addition to expressing his regret, Palmer added the incident has caused his family extreme stress.
“It's been especially hard on my wife and daughter,” he said. “They’ve been threatened ... in the social media, and again ... I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”