Being a Lion cub is hard work, as these images of the latest additions to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo show. Five Lion cubs, two males and three females, were born on December 29, 2012 to first-time mother Mfisha and father Mr. Big.
Photo Credit: Henry Doorly Zoo
Four of the cubs are on display with their mother and aunt, but one of the female cubs is currently in the zoo's hospital receiving round the clock care. She was smaller than the other cubs and didn’t compete well for food, so at 24 hours old Animal Care Staff gave her fluids to keep her hydrated. At 48 hours old the decision was made to remove the cub to the hospital for hand-rearing. When the cub’s health is stable and she is gaining weight, she will be introduced to her mother and siblings while keepers will provide her with extra feedings throughout the day when the mother is briefly shifted to a nearby enclosure.
This breeding is part of an SSP (Species Survival Plan) recommendation. The subspecies, krugeri, is the focus of AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Felid Taxon Advisory Group to concentrate zoo efforts nationwide to breed Lions of known lineage. There have been eleven African Lion births in the last twelve months at AZA accredited zoos in North America. The count does not inlcude these cubs.
African Lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). Over the last 20 years the lion population has estimated to have declined from 30% to 50%. African Lions live in sub-Sahara Africa with the majority in eastern and southern Africa. The last Lion birth at the zoo was in 1994.