Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is brimming with pride to announce the birth of a trio of lion cubs on 7 April in a major breeding success for the species. This is the first litter of cubs born at the Zoo since 2016, and the first born to new breeding pair, Marion and Lwazi.
“The female cubs are very healthy and meeting all their milestones,” said Senior Keeper Melanie Friedman. “Marion is a beautifully attentive mother. It has been a privilege to watch and be part of her journey through to motherhood and now nurturing these three precious bundles of fluff.”
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As a first-time mother, Marion experienced some complications during the birth. After delivering two healthy cubs, she required medical assistance after keepers observed her continuing to have contractions, but with no further cubs born. Thanks to close monitoring of the birth via CCTV, Keepers in consultation with the Zoo’s veterinary team decided to intervene and perform a caesarean, where one more cub was sadly found stillborn, while another was successfully recovered.
“Within a few hours of the surgery, Marion was reunited with her three healthy cubs and her incredible mothering instincts immediately kicked in,” Melanie said. “She set about ensuring all three cubs were clean and suckling, and neither she nor they have looked back since.”
The cubs are now almost three and a half weeks old. Their eyes have opened, and they are moving around in their den.
“The cubs are suckling well and putting on weight,” Keeper Mel said. “In the last week they have put on approximately 800 grams each. Marion has recovered beautifully from her surgery and when the cubs aren’t suckling, she spends her time snuggling with them, often with the cubs nestled around her head. It’s just heart-warming to see.”
The arrival of the cubs is an important milestone for the regional breeding program, as the union of Marion and Lwazi introduces a new genetic line. Seven-year-old Marion arrived at the Zoo in 2018 from the United States and was joined by Lwazi, aged 4 years, in 2021. The pair were introduced last year.
Marion and Lwazi’s offspring will spend their first few months of life behind the scenes. In the coming weeks, they will receive their first health checks and vaccinations, and they will be introduced to Lwazi. Marion will also start to introduce them to the world outside the den.
NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said the new arrivals are just one of many reasons to plan a visit to the Dubbo Zoo.
“Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a powerhouse of conservation, leading the way to save some of our state’s most threatened wildlife from extinction, from Regent Honeyeaters to the iconic Greater Bilby, while also supporting global conservation programs for species like the Black Rhinoceros.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, every dollar you spend at the zoo helps wildlife in need and leaves big and little kids alike with a lasting understanding of the important role we all have to play in protecting our environment.”
African Lions are classified as vulnerable in the wild with populations decreasing due to human-animal conflict, depleted prey base and habitat loss.