Gradual reintroductions between the cubs and their father proved successful. The cubs are now in residence with their five-year-old dad, ‘Makini’, and the entire pride can be seen together, regularly, in the exhibit.
Two of the cubs were born on June 25, 2014, and the other two were born the next day on the 26th. The proud mother is four-year-old ‘Tajiri’. They are the first lion cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo since 1996!
The Philadelphia Zoo conducted a contest, through social media, and the public was able to cast votes for their favorite names for the cubs. ‘Mali’, ‘Kataba’, ‘Sabi’, and ‘Msinga’ are already known to be as unique as their new monikers. Kataba has marks on both front feet, Mali has no dye marks, Msinga has a lighter mark on the left front foot, and Sabi has a mark on the left hind foot.
The African Lion is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Main threats to lions include: killing to protect livestock and depletion of their prey. Habitat loss and conversion for agriculture have also led to a decline in some population sizes.
The Philadelphia Zoo works in partnership with the Ongava Research Centre (ORC), part of one of the largest private nature reserves in Namibia, Africa. Their research projects closely monitor the activities of lions in the wild, specifically, how lions form groups and how those groups expand and disperse.