Denver Zoo's two-month-old Lion cubs recently made their public debut in the maternity yard of the Benson Predator Ridge exhibit. Visitors may now see male Kalu (pronounced Kuh-LOO) and female Kamara (pronounced Ka-MAR-uh), along with the rest of the Zoo's lion pride, as they explore their new habitat, weather permitting.
Zookeepers say prime viewing hours will occur between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The cubs will only be given outdoor access when it is 45 degrees F or warmer.
ZooBorns shared the cub’s birth announcement in late September.
The sibling’s names were chosen after an online naming contest, held to thank voters for their support of the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District of Denver, Colorado, which provides nearly one-quarter of the Zoo's annual funding.
The cubs were born to mother, Neliah, and father, Sango, on the morning of September 10. For the last two months, Kalu and Kamara have spent their time behind the scenes, bonding with their mom and adjusting to their new surroundings. The two were later introduced to the rest of the pride, dad Sango and female Sabi. Zookeepers say Sabi has been very attentive to the cubs, while Sango is relatively hands-off. Zookeepers say the five are already behaving as a very cohesive group. They will continue to stay together.
The cubs currently weigh around 20 pounds each and are growing at a rate of two to four pounds per week. While they are still nursing, they recently began consuming solid foods. Zookeepers describe the male cub, Kalu, as playful and energetic, while female, Kamara, is a bit more timid. Regardless, both still enjoy running around and wrestling with each other and other members of the pride.
Mom Neliah arrived from Florida's Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in November of last year. She was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on June 30, 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo through a recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. The 3-year-old joined the Denver Zoo's young Lion pride, with male Sango and female Sabi, both also 3-years-old.
Sango, the Zoo's only adult male lion, was born on July 28, 2012 at Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas. He arrived at Denver Zoo in 2013. The cubs are his first offspring, as well.
Lion cubs are born after a relatively short gestation period of 100 to 110 days, and they come into the world with spotted coats and their eyes closed. Lionesses normally give birth to between one and five cubs. For the first two months, the cubs drink only their mother's milk and are fully weaned by the time they are seven months old.
Denver Zoo held an online contest to name the cubs, allowing members of the SCFD seven-county region, in Denver, to submit name recommendations during the first round. The rest of the public was then allowed to vote on the final names. The two winners are from Jefferson and Arapahoe counties and will receive a behind-the-scenes tour Benson Predator Ridge exhibit.