Lizzie and Arthur have been together since 2008, and on Dec 4, 2015 they became parents for the first time. Nine-year-old Lizzy gave birth to three sweet female Lion cubs at the Peoria Zoo.
In preparation of the birth, Zoo staff modified an off-exhibit stall to provide a secure and quiet place for the expectant mother and cubs. A video camera was installed in the stall to allowed Zoo staff to view the family remotely, 24/7.
A whelping box was also installed, in the hopes that Lizzy would actually give birth in the box. The idea was to provide a safe place so the cubs could stay in the box until they were strong enough to climb out. However, Lizzy did not give birth in whelping box and it was later removed.
After the birth of the cubs, the new family was left totally alone, with no interruption for as long as possible to allow the new mom to bond with her offspring.
Zoo staff observed, via remote viewing, that the smaller of the females was not nursing or receiving attention from mom. Staff opted to remove the tiny cub from the mix and began to bottle feed her. Keepers initially struggled with this decision; bottle-fed Lions typically lack the maternally taught socialization skills that are vital.
After a week of staff feedings, the cub was placed back in the litter with mom. But, unfortunately, things took another turn for the worse in the saga when Lizzie was no longer able to produce enough milk for all the cubs. The three sisters are now receiving total care from Zoo staff.
For the duration of the winter months, the new cubs are NOT available for viewing. Peoria Zoo will continue to update their web and social media pages with news of the Lion cub’s progress.
It is anticipated they will be on exhibit and available for viewing in the spring.