The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s three lion cubs, born November 13 to three-year-old mother Imani and four-year-old father John, got their first health checkup last week. The zoo’s veterinary staff and animal care team weighed the feisty felines, administered vaccines, and determined that all cubs are female!
“The three cubs behaved just as you would expect during their first wellness physical. Being handled by strange two-legged creatures who poked and examined them, all the while being separated from the safety and security of mom, the cubs hissed and tried to get away,” said Josh Charlton, Curator of Mammals.
According to vet staff, the cubs are healthy and right on track with each weighing about 20 pounds. The next big step will be to introduce John to Imani and the cubs. “The introduction process has already begun. John and the cubs have had positive interactions during several nose-to-nose ‘howdy mesh’ sessions in the past two weeks. We’ll continue to monitor their behavior and will put the pride together when the time is right,” said Charlton.
“African Lions in the wild are disappearing at an alarming rate. These cubs will be great ambassadors for their species and inspire people to act for wildlife,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo. “We look forward to seeing the whole Lion family out in the Africa exhibit together this spring.”
Imani was born at the Saint Louis Zoo and came to the Cincinnati Zoo as the result of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Program (SSP). She was introduced to John earlier this year, and this is the first litter for both of them.
Lions are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the result of climate change, hunting, and habitat loss. Following a review of the best available scientific information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed listing the African Lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency’s analysis found that Lions are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.
See more photos of the female feline trio below.