Heartache at zoo as young cub loses his mum

Lioness Rachel with her first and only cub Khari before her unexpected death

Lioness Rachel with her first and only cub Khari before her unexpected death

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An adorable lion cub who made headlines earlier this year after being born at Blackpool Zoo has lost his mum to a stroke.

Lioness Rachel - a familiar face to visitors for years - died unexpectedly over Christmas, staff at the East Park Drive attraction have announced.

It was love at first sight for animal lovers when Khari was born in May

It was love at first sight for animal lovers when Khari was born in May

Her sister Gillian died from cancer in November, which means Khari, born in May, and his father Wallace are now the only two lions left in their pride and at the zoo.

The pair are being monitored by keepers and are doing 'really well' following their sad loss, which has left staff 'saddened' a spokesman said.

“Rachel has been a familiar face to visitors and members for many years and we were delighted to welcome her first cub Khari earlier this year," they said.

"Khari has spent a lot of time with his dad and the pair appear to be very close. He is weaned and eating solid foods but continues to be fed separately to ensure he gets the food he needs."

Khari shot to fame after staff captured his ‘jazz hands’ (pictured) and shared the snap online.