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13935707150_ce0058ef2b_bThree Asiatic Lion cubs born on March 27 at Finland’s Helsinki Zoo had their first vet visit at five weeks of age.  

14122325415_9347177432_bPhoto Credit:  Mari Lehmonen

The Zoo staff lured the three-year-old mother to another area of the exhibit, and the veterinary staff swooped in for a quick exam.  The cubs are still small enough to be handled safely, and they received vaccinations and gender checks. 

According to the staff, the cubs are “chubby,” so it’s clear that their mother is caring for them properly.  And if you watch the video, you'll see that the cubs have no trouble airing their displeasure with the veterinary staff.

To date, the cubs have been with their mother in a cubbing den behind the scenes.  The staff has watched the new family on closed circuit cameras.  The cubs won’t be on public display until sometime in June. 

Wild Asiatic Lions live only in northwestern India in the Gir forest area.  Because only about 400 individual lions live in the wild, they are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Though this number is small, the population has more than doubled from a low of only 180 individuals in 1974. These cats once ranged into central Asia and the Middle East as recently as the 20th century. 

Because the current wild population is derived from only a few cats, inbreeding is one of the greatest threats to Asiatic Lions.  In addition, the Gir forest is under intense pressure from an encroaching human population. 

See more photos below.