Cubs born on January 9 at Pepper Family Wildlife Center
The African lion pride continues to grow at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Pepper Family Wildlife Center! The zoo has been on #LionWatch since African lion Zari’s (Zar-ee) pregnancy was announced last month, and, on January 9, the 4.5-year-old African lion gave birth once again, this time to three cubs.
The cubs have yet to be sexed or named. The cubs appear healthy and began nursing within their first hours, a critical milestone. In the next few days, they will be more mobile and begin to open their eyes. Over the next few weeks, the cubs will remain behind the scenes as they grow in size and strength and remain dependent on Zari.
“We could not be more honored to care for Zari, her cubs, and the rest of the pride here at Lincoln Park Zoo,” said Curator of Mammals and Behavioral Husbandry Mike Murray. “The animal care and veterinary team confirmed Zari’s pregnancy after observing breeding behavior, monitoring hormone levels, and conducting voluntary ultrasounds.”
Zari was recommended to breed with 5-year-old male African lion Jabari (Ja-bar-ee). This is their second successful birth following their arrival at Lincoln Park Zoo in the fall of 2021. Zari gave birth in March 2022 to Pilipili (pee-lee-pee-lee) whom zoo guests enjoy watching grow into his mane and explore with his family. While the new cubs and Zari stay behind the scenes for the next several weeks and are not visible to the public, Lincoln Park Zoo visitors can often see Pilipili and the other lions at Pepper Family Wildlife Center.
Pepper Family Wildlife Center opened in 2021, is a state-of-the-art, savanna-style habitat focused on animal choice and includes thermal comfort zones for cooling and heating, intricate rockwork and climbing trees for vertical complexity, and space for offspring. The facility is home to a pride of African lions, two Canada lynx, two red pandas, and two snow leopards.
African lions are large predators that can weigh up to 500 pounds. Males are larger than females and can be distinguished by their mane, which surrounds their head and extends to their chest. Lions are a social species that live in prides. This vulnerable species is found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and its habitat ranges from forests to shrublands and grasslands.
Lion populations have declined for the past 100 years, with fewer than 20,000 lions remaining. Lincoln Park Zoo is a proud partner of the KopeLion Project based in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, which strives to foster human-lion coexistence.
Those interested in helping care for mom and her cubs all year long can shop the zoo’s Wish List at lpzoo.org/wish-list.
For more information about African lions, the zoo’s partnership with KopeLion, or Lincoln Park Zoo, visit lpzoo.org.