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.

UPDATE! Help Name Maryland Zoo's Lion Cubs


The Maryland Zoo is asking the public to help name the brother and sister Lion cubs that were born on October 4. The cubs are now nine weeks-old and full of Lion cub mischief. They were given a clean bill of health during their most recent veterinary exam and are now eating several pounds of meat a day.  

The names were selected by the zoo keepers who have been caring for them since their mother, Lioness Badu, died from complications relating to the birth.  Zoo staff say that their personalities have really just begun to emerge.  The male cub has a lighter coat of fur and is more laid-back, a pretty relaxed cub who likes to stay near his sister.  The sister is covered in dark spots. She has a fiery personality, is always the first one to check out new things and she is the instigator in all of their lion cub tussles. With that in mind, the names the keepers have selected are:

1) Luke and Leia: brother/sister from Star Wars who were also orphaned

2) Bart and Maggie: Simpson’s siblings

3) Kulu and Madoa: Kulu means “huge” and Madoa means “spotted”

4) Lear and Circe: King Lear, for the lion is the king of the jungle and Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology who turned men into animals with her wand.

The voting closes today (December 19), so go ahead and vote!




5 lionPhoto credit: Jeffrey F. Bill / Maryland Zoo

See a video of the cubs exploring their new home:

See more photos after the fold!

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Hand-raised Lion Cubs Growing Strong at San Diego Zoo Safari Park


Lions Izu and Oshana of San Diego Zoo Safari Park are parents again! On December 6, Oshana gave birth to two healthy cubs, one male and one female. Although Oshana is an experienced mom who nursed and cared for her previous litters, she shows no interest in nursing these two. We may find it upsetting, but animal mothers both in captivity and in the wild may reject their young for many reasons, and we don't always understand why.

Zoo staff are hand-raising this litter in the zoo's animal care center, so that the little Lions will be able to grow up healthy and safely. So far the yet-to-be-named cubs are doing well under the care of dedicated staff. Keep an eye out—zoo visitors will be able to see them in the coming weeks!

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3 lionPhoto credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park. First photo credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park

UPDATE: Lion Cubs Thriving at Maryland Zoo


A five-week-old brother-and-sister Lion cub duo is thriving under the care of zoo keepers at the Maryland Zoo. 

ZooBorns introduced the cubs a few weeks ago.  Their mother died unexpectedly just few days after giving birth but thanks to round-the-clock care from the zoo staff, the cubs are in excellent health and are becoming more playful every day.  The cubs’ teeth are starting to come in, and keepers have started to introduce meat into their daily diet. 

Photo Credit:  Maryland Zoo

The cubs are not on public display yet, but the zoo expects to hold a naming contest for the cubs soon. 

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.


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Keepers Step In To Raise Maryland Zoo's First-ever Lion Cubs

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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.”



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Photo Credit:  Jeffrey F. Bill / The Maryland Zoo

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.

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UPDATE! Help Name Oregon Zoo's Lion Cubs

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Oregon Zoo's lions cubs are growing up strong. The three females are now one month old, healthy and playful. The littlest cub, who had some health issues and received some supplemental bottle-feeding, is still the smallest of the trio, but she is doing much better.

See our original story about the cubs here.
Want to vote for your favorite potential names? The lions' keepers have picked out their favorites, and want to know yours. 

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Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

See more photos after the fold.

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Are Lion Cubs Ticklish?

We don't know if Lions are ticklish, but this mom seems to join in the fun with her three playful Asiatic Lion cubs, born at Sweden’s Parken Zoo on July 18.  But like all moms, she knows just when to discipline her growing cubs and when to play along.

Photo Credit:  Parken Zoo

Born to mother Ishara, age 6, and father Kaja, age 14, the cubs were recently examined by the zoo’s veterinarian, given vaccines, and had identifying microchips inserted.  Now, they are ready to meet their older siblings, Khana and Gir, age two.  Khana and Gir have been watched over by Sarla, a 16-year-old female in the zoo’s pride, while Ishara tended her new cubs.

Asiatic Lions once roamed much of southern Asia and the Middle East, but they now exist as a tiny population of only 350 animals in India’s Gir Forest area.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.   Thanks to protection, the population has doubled in the last 40 years, but the Asiatic Lion is still vulnerable to poaching, disease, and natural disasters.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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Zoo Miami's First Ever Lion Cubs!


For the first time in the 33 year history of Zoo Miami, the birth of Lions is being celebrated!  On Tuesday, September 24th, “Kashifa’” a 3 year, 8 month old Lioness gave birth to three cubs in a special den off exhibit.  Until today, the cubs were being observed in that den via a closed circuit camera which indicated that the newborns are being well cared for by the first time mother.  This morning, zoo staff was successful in shifting the mother, which allowed the separation of the cubs and subsequent safe access for their neonatal examination.  The examination enabled staff to determine the sex of the cubs as well as obtain weights while carefully evaluating their overall condition.  In addition, they received microchips for identification.  The two males and single female appeared to be in excellent health weighing between 1.63kg and 1.75kg and will remain off exhibit with their mother for approximately 3 months until zoo staff feels confident that the cubs can be introduced to the rest of the pride and safely navigate the exhibit with the adults.

Kashifa is one of four Lions that form the pride at Zoo Miami.  She shares the exhibit with her sister, Asha, and two unrelated brothers, Jabari and Kwame.  Both females were born at the Bronx Zoo in New York in January of 2010 and the males were born at the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin in September of 2007.   It is not known for sure which if the two brothers is the father of the cubs as both males had equal access to the females. 




These cubs were born as part of a carefully planned breeding that was the result of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation.  Species Survival Plans are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) mission to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered species populations in accredited institutions.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold...

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Oregon Zoo's Lion Pride Grows

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Neka, a 6-year-old African Lion at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to three healthy cubs on September 7 between about 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. The litter represents the first offspring for Neka and Zawadi Mungu, the cubs' 5-year-old father. Veterinarians and animal-care staff conducted their first examination of the 12-day-old cubs on Septmeber 19, and answered a question that's been on a lot of people's minds: all three cubs are girls! The neonatal checkup took place a day earlier than planned after keepers, who had been monitoring the young lions via surveillance camera, noticed one of the cubs wasn't interacting with the other two.

"We had planned on doing our first exam tomorrow," said curator Jennifer Davis, who oversees the zoo's Africa and primate areas. "But this morning, keepers noticed one cub seemed lethargic and wasn't active with the other two. We reviewed our surveillance tapes, and saw that she hadn't nursed at any of the overnight feedings, so we decided to move the exam to today."

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6 lionPhoto credits: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

See a video of the birth:


Sneak a peek at their first checkup:


Davis said animal-care staffers first separated Neka from the cubs by offering a treat.

"We gave her a nice hearty bone to enjoy while we conducted the exam," Davis said. "Neka did great and didn't seem upset at all that we were in there with her babies — it really shows the great relationship and trust she has with her care team."

With mom thus occupied, the zoo's animal-care staff entered the private maternity den and conducted a complete physical exam on all three cubs, confirming that all are female, with weights ranging from about 2½ to 4½ pounds.

"The one we are concerned about was dehydrated and had low body temperature and blood-sugar levels," Davis said. "We warmed her up and gave her some supplemental food and fluids. The other two appear to be robust and healthy. They've been nursing regularly, and they're moving around a lot and vocalizing. One is definitely larger and more 'outspoken' than the others — we've nicknamed her Feisty."

See and read more after the fold!

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