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."
Photo 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."
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