Zoo keepers have stepped in to raise the Maryland Zoo’s first-ever Lion cubs after their mother died a few days after their birth.
The cubs, born on October 3, appear healthy and are receiving around-the-clock care in an off-exhibit area. “They are very young, and we are measuring their progress and evaluating the situation day by day,” stated Margie Rose-Innes, assistant general curator. “Ideally they will be able to be introduced to the other Lions, but that will be some time in the future. For now, their continued health and well-being will be our focus.”
Though the staff is deeply saddened by the loss of the cubs’ mother, Badu, they are taking on the challenge of rearing her cubs. The brother-and-sister duo have not yet been named.
A day after the birth of her two cubs, Badu’s health declined and the staff intervened. “Two additional cubs had to be removed surgically, neither of which survived,” stated Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the Zoo. Badu continued to have complications from the surgery, and despite the efforts of the staff, she died a few days later.
The cubs’ birth is the result of a recommendation from the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. Lions are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because their wild population has declined significantly over the past 50 years. Only about 32,000 individuals remain in the wild, down from over 100,000 in the mid-20th century.
See more photos of the cubs below the fold.