Werribee Open Range Zoo

Introducing Werribee Open Range’s First Lion Cubs

1_Lion Cubs 5- Photo Cormac Hanrahan

Werribee Open Range Zoo, near Melbourne, Australia, has welcomed the arrival of three African Lion cubs.

Born in the early hours of October 20, this is the first litter for mom Nilo, and father Johari, and it is the first Lion birth in Werribee Open Range Zoo’s history.



4_12369009_10153441650573068_4676618566990063375_nPhoto Credits: Images 1,5,7: Cormac Hanrahan / Images 2,3,4: Zoos Victoria / Images 6: Will Watt 

Nilo and her cubs were off display in a special nesting den, with vets and keepers monitoring them closely via a video camera link, for the first few months.

The cubs marked a milestone with their six-week health check. Vets and Keepers were able to weigh and examine each of cubs, checking their heart, lungs, ears, eyes and movement.

Senior Veterinarian Dr. Natalie Rourke said that she was pleased with the health and development of the cubs, “All three cubs are a good, healthy weight and developing as they should. They are moving around well and have started wrestling with one another – which is a great sign they are strong and robust.”

While mum Nilo was enjoying time outside with her pride mates Johari and Nairibi, staff were able to enter the nesting den, to quickly examine, weigh, microchip and vaccinate the cubs. At six weeks, the cubs weighed in at approximately 6.8kg, and staff were also thrilled to finally determine the sex of the cubs – three boys.

Now, at two months of age, the cubs are beginning to explore the world around them, venturing out on public display with mum Nilo for short periods during the day.

At this age, mum’s tail is also a source of great fascination and they love playing amongst logs and branches.

As the cubs grow and develop, Keepers have also been introducing new items such as cardboard tubes, boxes and lots of new scents to encourage discovery and play.

During the day the cubs are also spending time in the dens to rest and to get to know the rest of the pride, including Lioness Nairibi and dad Johari.

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Hippo Family Takes a Mud Bath at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Hippo 1

Werribee Open Range Zoo in Australia welcomed a new baby Hippo on November 18, born to proud mum Brindabella. Both mom and calf are doing well, but the first few weeks are a critical time, so keepers and vets will be monitoring both closely.

New mother Hippos are very protective, so keepers have yet to weigh the calf or determine its sex. The new calf is likely to weigh between 44 to 88 pounds (20 to 40 kg) but when fully grown could weigh as much as two tons.

Hippo 2Photo credit: Werribee Open Range Zoo

In the wild, expectant Hippo mothers isolate themselves from the other hippos and seek privacy to bond with their young. This is why Brindabella was moved to a protected, off-display birthing suite prior to the birth and she will remain off display for several weeks as the calf gets bigger and stronger. 

Hippo calves can nurse underwater and are even born underwater, swimming to the surface themselves.  Calves will hitch a ride on mom's back for a while if the water is too deep or they get tired.