Cue up “Circle of Life,” because one zoo has announced the new arrival of four precious baby lions.
Earlier this week the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announced that four African lion cubs were born to 7-year-old lioness Dunia.
A press release described the birth as a “significant event,” as it’s the first litter of lion cubs born at the zoo in 15 years, and the first litter for the lion mom — as well as an important step in protecting this vulnerable species.
The litter consists of three females and one male. They reportedly arrived on September 26, and have been doing well under the zoo’s surveillance, nursing from their mother and reaching all of their major milestones.
“Throughout her pregnancy, birth and now care of these four cubs, Dunia has been amazing and is showing excellent maternal care,” Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores, said in the release.
While not endangered, African lions are considered a vulnerable species by the IUCN, and have a declining population due to illegal hunting and habitat loss. It is estimated that there are fewer than 40,000 mature African lions in the world.
The Oklahoma City Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions, and Dunia was mated with 10-year-old male lion Hubert under a recommendation from the SSP. Their new cubs represent an important step in the preservation of this beautiful species.
“This birth is vital to the African lion population and has been a culmination of years of hard work, dedication and commitment by the Oklahoma City Zoo and its supporters, the African Lion SSP and the Zoo’s carnivore care team,” Boyd said.
The newborn cubs currently weigh between 2 and 2.5 pounds, and have plenty of growing up ahead of them: male lions weigh between 330 and 570 pounds, while females weigh between 270 and 400 when fully grown.
The lion cubs are being kept behind-the-scenes for the time being until they receive their vaccinations, and will be slowly and carefully introduced to other members of the zoo’s pride, including dad Hubert.
What adorable lion cubs, and an important step in protecting this vulnerable species and ensuring their future survival. We can’t wait to see these precious cubs grow up!
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