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Denver Zoo Welcomes Royal Lion Cub Trio From Qatar


The pitter patter of little paws can be heard at Denver Zoo's Predator Ridge exhibit with the arrival of three Lion cubs from the Royal Family of Qatar. The trio, made up of males, Tsavo and Enzi, and female, Sabi, were born June 24, 2012 and will likely only live at Denver Zoo temporarily until permanent homes are determined. Weather permitting; visitors can see the triplet cubs in Predator Ridge during the next few months of their temporary stay.



Photo credit: Denver Zoo

This is the first time Denver Zoo has had Lion cubs since 2006. The trio was donated by Sheik Khalid Hamad Al Thani, son of Qatar's ruling emir. He received the cubs' parents as a gift from the country of Sudan a few years ago. The Lions bred and the female died after a difficult birth. With the Lion family having doubled in size, the sheik contacted zoos in the United States that could better meet the needs of this Lion pride. Denver Zoo was asked to assist as Curator of Large Mammals Hollie Colahan is also the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator, which determines the best home for Lions in North American zoos. SSPs are cooperative animal management, breeding and conservation programs that work to ensure long-term species survival. Colahan travelled to Qatar, met with veterinarians caring for the Lions and personally oversaw the import process in late October.

The cubs will reside at Denver Zoo until they are larger and their long-term plan has been determined. The zoo's Predator Ridge exhibit is already home to six adult lions, three males and three females. Regardless of their final home, the cubs' arrival is exciting news for the North American population amongst accredited zoos. These cubs are not related to any Lions in AZA zoos and do not share any recent African ancestry, thus providing valuable unique genetics for shared breeding programs.

Lions have vanished from 80 percent of their historic range and likely number less than 30,000 in the wild today. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as endangered in West and Central Africa. Threats include retaliatory killing for livestock deaths, fragmentation of habitat, prey shortages due to overhunting, and disease spread by domestic animals.