Dublin Zoo's New Mane Man

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Dublin Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of an Asian Lion cub!  The male cub was born to mother, Zuri, and dad, Kumar, who arrived, last year, to Dublin Zoo from Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.

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Asian lion cub_Dublin_1Photo Credits: Patrick Bolger

Also know as the Indian Lion, the entire wild population of the Asian Lion can be found in the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Gujarat, India.  Although, the lion was on the brink of extinction some 40 years ago, with wild population estimates at less than 200 individuals, the Asian Lion remains on the endangered list.  There are only estimated to be between 300 and 400 individuals in India. The birth of this Asian Lion cub is very significant for Dublin Zoo and the international breeding programme for this critically endangered species. 

According to the animal care team at Dublin Zoo, the lion cub is bonding well with his parents, first time mum Zuri and experienced dad Kumar.

Team leader Ciaran McMahon said, “We're thrilled about the arrival of the cub. He has a wonderfully playful and curious personality. It's lovely to see Zuri taking to her role as a new mum so well, and Kumar is as cool and calm as ever. At two months old, he now weighs an estimated 6.6kg (14.5 lbs).”

McMahon also said, “In the past, Dublin Zoo was very successful breeding African Lions. It is now of great conservation importance for zoos to maintain a viable population of critically endangered Asian Lions.”

See more photos below the fold.

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Rare Asiatic Lion Cubs Have Their First Checkup

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.  

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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.

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First Look at Zoo Miami's Lion Cubs

Kashifa cub 8 IBFour Lion cubs born on March 6 at Zoo Miami were viewed in person for the first time last week after spending more than a month in the den with their mother.

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Kashifa cubs 12 IBPhoto Credit:  Ivy Brower

Until now, zoo keepers have viewed the new family only by closed circuit camera.  Last week, they were able to temporarily separate the mother, four-year-old Kashifa, to get a closer look at the cubs.  

In the wild, Lion cubs remain in the den or hidden in brush for about six weeks, when they are old enough to join the pride.  Zoo Miami’s four cubs are not yet on public display, and are expected to remain behind the scenes with Kashifa for a few more weeks.

See more cub photos below!

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Zoo Miami's Lion Cub Makes His First Public Appearance

For the first time in Zoo Miami history, a Lioness and her cub went on public exhibit together. First-time mother Asha and her three month old male cub K'wasi thrilled zoo guests last week as they explored the exhibit and interacted together. 



Photo Credit:  Ron Magill

You’d never know by looking at him, but K’wasi had a rough start in life.  ZooBorns chronicled his difficult journey here and here.  When he was just a few weeks old, he battled bacterial infections and lost weight.  Thanks to supplemental bottles from zoo keepers, K’wasi has made a comeback.

See more photos of Asha and K'wasi below the fold.

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Update: Zoo Miami's Lion Cub is Thriving

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A few weeks ago, we introduced you to a male Lion cub born December 15 at Zoo Miami.  Shortly after the cub was born to first-time mother Asha, keepers observed that he was losing weight.  He then faced several bacterial infections.  To help the little cub, keepers began offering a supplemental bottle to the cub three times a day.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Miami

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the zoo staff, the little cub is now thriving and his prognosis for long-term survival is good.  The cub was recently separated from Asha for a quick physical exam and received his vaccinations.  Asha welcomed her cub back without hesitation after the brief exam. 

The cub, who has not yet been named, will remain off-exhibit with Asha for several weeks.  Eventually, he will be introduced to the rest of the zoo’s Lion pride.

When Mom's Away, the Cubs Get Weighed!

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Last week at Smithsonian National Zoo, African Lion mother Naba spent some time away from her cubs and enjoyed a special oxtail treat with her sister, Shera. Keepers took the opportunity to get their first in-person look at the cubs. Their report: they are adorable! 

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6 lionPhoto credit: Smithsonian National Zoo / Karen Abbott

In order to distinguish the two, keepers shaved a small mark on each cub. The smaller cub, who weighs 7.6 pounds (3.4 kg), has a shave mark on his/her left shoulder. The larger cub, who weighs 8.26 pounds (3.7 kg), has a small shave mark at the base of his/her tail. Animal care staff have not yet verified the cubs’ sex. (Just shy of 2 weeks old, the cubs’ genetalia have not fully developed.) 

When Naba returned to the cubbing den, she groomed and nursed the cubs. She didn’t show any signs of stress. Keepers gave her the option to move the cubs to a different set of cubbing dens, but Naba choose to keep them where they were. 

Watch the little lion family grow on the zoo's Cub Cam.

UPDATE! Reid Park Zoo's Lion Cubs are Growing Strong

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Lioness Kaya and her four cubs are doing well at Reid Park Zoo in Arizona. The cubs, three males and one female, are being cared for by their mom as well as keepers and veterinary staff. The cubs are gaining weight and had their most recent checkup on February 3. At six weeks old, they're still not quite big enough to come out on exhibit...but soon!

See our first post here.

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See a video from the cubs' checkup at three weeks old:

Bottles Give a Boost to Zoo Miami’s Lion Cub

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A male Lion cub born December 15 at Florida’s Zoo Miami is getting extra care from zoo keepers after battling several health challenges in his short life.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Miami
The only cub born to first-time mother Asha, he remains in stable condition and zoo officials are guarded but hopeful about his chances for survival. The cub has already overcome dehydration and a bacterial infection. Now, keepers are concerned that Asha may not be producing enough milk for her cub, so they provide supplemental bottle feedings three times a day.

Because they want the cub to bond with his mother, keepers offer the bottles through a barrier, allowing him to remain with Asha. Fortunately, Asha accepts the cub after each feeding, an important factor in the cub’s socialization. The staff observes Asha and her cub with a closed circuit camera and reports that Asha is an attentive mother, but the cub could still face challenges in the next several months.

See more photos of the cub below the fold.

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Four Feisty Lion Cubs are the Pride of Zoo Basel


The four African Lion cubs born at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel in November are enjoying the great outdoors and behaving just like a miniature pride.  While the cubs play-fight and explore, dad exerts his fatherly influence and the females offer gentle guidance to the exuberant youngsters.


Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel 

You first met these four male cubs on ZooBorns last month, when Zoo Basel announced that two of their female Lions, Okoa and Uma, had each delivered two cubs just four days apart.  Much like wild Lions in a pride, the females are raising their cubs together.  In fact, zoo officials will need a DNA test to determine which cubs came from which mother.

The cubs’ father, Mbali, remains with the females and the cubs (males are typically removed from females and very young cubs in zoo settings).  Because Mbali, Okoa, and Uma came to Zoo Basel from African wildlife reserves, their genetic contributions to the European Endangered Species Programme are highly valued.  Wild African Lion populations have declined dramatically in the last few decades, largely due to human activity.  Zoo-managed populations will become even more important if these declines cannot be slowed.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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Four Lion Cubs Born at Reid Park Zoo


Tiny vocalizations coming from the Lion cubbing den alerted a Reid Park Zoo keeper that Kaya, the zoo’s Lioness, had given birth on December 23.  Of the five cubs delivered, only four survived, which is not unusual for such a large litter.

Photo Credit:  Reid Park Zoo

Of the four remaining cubs, three are males and one is a female. All four cubs are gaining weight, but the veterinary staff remains concerned about one male who is gaining weight slowly and appears weaker than the others. “A litter of five cubs is unusual,” says Zoo Veterinarian Alexis Moreno. “It would be a challenge for five cubs to thrive – and we are monitoring the health of the remaining four offspring closely – it is still a large litter. I am cautiously optimistic at this point.” The mortality rate for cubs up to one year old is close to 30% in zoos, and significantly higher in the wild.

The cubs and mother are behind the scenes and are receiving the best care possible. Kaya and her cubs have access to two “bedrooms” and a cubbing den (a cave-like room with minimal lighting and temperature regulation to reduce stress and limit human intrusion). Kaya is eating well, nurses her cubs, and is protective of her young. Shombay, the father, is separated from the rest of the pride for safety. He has access to the exhibit and adjacent behind-the-scenes holding. Shombay vocalizes to Kaya and the young and appears very curious about the cubs.

This is the second litter for Kaya and Shombay at Reid Park Zoo. She delivered three cubs in July 2011 and all three offspring are now living at other accredited zoos.  Reid Park Zoo partners with other zoos to make responsible breeding decisions for the protection of the species.