Four lion cubs were born at Woodland Park Zoo Thursday night, the first lions born at the zoo in more than 20 years.
The lion’s den as seen from a surveillance camera above.
The mother is 3-year-old Adia; the father is 13-year-old Hubert. The genders of the cubs have not been determined.
The mom and cubs are off public exhibit in a maternity den to allow the new family to bond in a hushed, comfortable environment. Animal management staff are closely monitoring the litter via a web cam to ensure the mom is providing excellent maternal care and the cubs are properly nursing.
According to Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo, average litter size for lions is two to three, so this is a large litter, especially for a first-time mother. “The first 48 hours are critical, and animal care staff will be monitoring each of the cubs closely for signs of normal behavior and development over the next several weeks.”
Woodland Park Zoo’s lions belong to the South African subspecies, Panthera leo krugeri. A 13-year-old female lion, named Kalisa, also lives at the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna. Known as the Transvaal lion, it ranges in Southern Sahara to South Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest belt, in grassy plains, savanna and open woodlands. These lions range in weight from 260 to 400 pounds.
To minimize disturbance to the newborns, the other two adult lions are indoors and may not be on public exhibit throughout the weekend.
Cubs typically weigh about 3 pounds at birth. They are born blind and open their eyes within a week or two after birth.
Approximately 199 South African lions currently live in 100 AZA-accredited zoos in North America.
Adia nursing her cubs.
You can see video and photos of the cubs here.