Zoo Knoxville celebrates birth of endangered African lion cub

It’s always an exciting day at a zoo when a new animal is born, especially when that animal is part of an endangered species.

Recently, Zoo Knoxville made an announcement that will have you singing “Circle of Life“: they welcomed a newborn baby lion!

The female African lion cub was born on June 16, the zoo announced on Tuesday, the third offspring of father Upepo and mother Amara. The two are also parents to 6-month-old cubs named Magi and Anga.

The zoo, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the African Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), welcomed the birth as an important step in their conservation efforts.

They wrote that Amara and Upepo’s cubs were “extremely important to the population of lions” and “ensure a future for the species.”

While the birth was great news, it wasn’t without its complications. The zoo writes that after the cub’s birth, Amara “continued to show signs of birth,” and was later found to have a stillborn cub lodged in her birth canal.

The mama lion had to undergo emergency surgery, which was a success, but she was “slow to rebound” and later found to have acute renal insufficiency, and had to undergo further medical treatments.

But now, Amara is recovering. “Her care team is cautiously optimistic that they can continue to manage the condition with oral medications, fluid therapy and voluntary care,” Zoo Knoxville wrote. “The latest report was that she was bright, acting more like her usual self, and caring appropriately for her cub.”

In December, the zoo celebrated the birth of Amara’s other offspring, twins Magi and Anga. They were born after an emergency c-section, and the zoo assisted in their care while Amara recovered.

“Much like raising a newborn baby, lion cubs require round-the-clock care,” the zoo wrote. “The cubs require bottle feedings every two hours in the first few weeks.”

Despite the complications, the births are important for the species. “They will contribute new genetics to ensure the health of the population for the future,” Zoo Knoxville wrote.

“African lions are a vulnerable species and their population in the wild is steadily decreasing. It is the job of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to maintain a healthy genetic population in order to prevent their extinction.”

What an adorable lion cub, and an important step towards saving this endangered species. Welcome to the world!

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