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