Lion cubs born in Chile after world first veterinary procedure

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Two baby lion cubs were presented to the public at a zoo in Chile on Thursday, born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father.

The cubs' mother "Masai" became pregnant after the father "Maucho" underwent the procedure, which vets at Buin Zoo in the suburbs of Santiago said took months of planning and a five-hour operation.

Both parents had been rescued from circuses.

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Maucho the lion undergoes a reverse vasectomy
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Maucho the lion undergoes a reverse vasectomy

Two of Maucho's cubs play with their mother in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species.

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lion cubs, who were born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father, are presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

A Chilean lion named Maucho greets one of his cubs in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of Maucho's cubs rest in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

A lion cub (L), who was born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of its father, is presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

Two of Maucho's cubs play with their mother in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lion cubs, who were born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father, are presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

A Chilean lion named Maucho rests in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lion cubs, who were born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father, are presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

Lion cubs, who were born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father, are presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

A Chilean lion named Maucho rests in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species.

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lion cubs, who were born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father, are presented to the media, at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

Visitors look at Maucho, his cubs and their mother in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

A lion cub (R), who was born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of its father, is presented to the media at Buin Zoo, in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile May 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

One of Maucho's cubs lies on a rock in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chilean lion named Maucho rests in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species.

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of Maucho's cubs play with their mother in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chilean lion named Maucho sits next to one of his cubs in the Buin zoo, 40 km south of Santiago, on May 4, 2017. Surgery to reverse the lion's vasectomy made it possible for him to breed again, after a pioneering medical procedure that could help the reproduction of endangered species. 

(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

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"This is the first successful reversal of a lion vasectomy reported in the world," said Marcelo Marconi, a urology specialist who joined the zoo vet team to lead the procedure. "It gives a way of preserving and maintaining a species in a zoo."

The procedure could be copied by other places around the world that have lions in captivity, the zoo said.

One of the cubs, which were born around three months ago, is named Niara and the other is yet to be named. Both are female.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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