Woburn Safari Park announced the arrival of two African Lion cubs, which were born to parents Zuri and Joco in late July. The cubs spend most of their time in the den with their mother but are expected to move into the Lion exhibit later this month.
Keepers have already spotted the youngsters playing with each other and with their mom’s tail and they are looking stronger on their legs every day. Born weighing just over two pounds each, the cubs will begin to be weaned from their mother onto meat at around 10-12 weeks old and will be fully weaned by the time they are 6-8 months old.
Lioness Zuri, 5, is extremely protective of her new young, and naturally can become aggressive if disturbed. Keepers prepared for the birth by creating a secluded den in one compartment of the Lion house for Zuri and her cubs, so they can enjoy bonding in a quiet, private area. In the wild, a Lioness will give birth and keep her cubs in a den of thick dense cover, like acacia bushes, so keepers have tried to replicate this environment as much as possible.
Keepers are feeding Zuri five days out of every seven, monitoring how much she eats each day to decide when she is fed. Normally the Lions are fed large meals every four days to mimic wild hunting patterns, including feast days and fast periods.
Craig Lancaster, Team Leader for Carnivores at Woburn Safari Park, said, “It’s hugely exciting to have new Lion cubs at the Park and we are so pleased that they seem to be settling in so well. They aren’t crying a lot and are already looking chunky and healthy, which indicates that they are feeding well and are content in their surroundings.
“The public will be able to view the cubs in the side pen after all their vaccinations are up to date in late September. We will ensure the vets are happy with their progress before they are moved into the main Lion enclosure later on in the year.”
Once ranging across most of Africa, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia, Lions have suffered drastic population declines in the past 50 years. Most of the 20,000-50,000 Lions remaining in Africa reside in protected areas such as parks and reserves. Tourism, and the revenue it creates, is a strong incentive for Lion conservation. These majestic Cats are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.