Thursday, February 14, 2013

It’s official: lion cubs to debut

Posted by: Gigi Allianic, Communications


The quadruplet lion cubs are ready for the big time. The cubs officially debut on exhibit this Sat., Feb. 16!

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

Starting Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily, the 3-month-old cubs and mom are scheduled to be on view in the lion shelter located in the award-winning African Savanna. Viewing hours may vary or may be canceled for the day due to weather and veterinary examinations, and will increase incrementally as the cubs continue growing.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

The cubs spent their first weeks in a behind-the-scenes maternity den with mom Adia, then took their first steps outdoors earlier this month. For the past two weeks the cubs have been exploring the outdoors through a series of introduction sessions.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

They adjusted to the outdoors right away, exploring all around, playing with sticks and trotting through mud. Their play is predator-like, loaded with mock stalking, pouncing, mouthing and biting.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

A temporary chain-link fence has been installed in the lion exhibit to provide a protective barrier between the cubs and the moat. The 13-foot-high fence also creates a small yard to help mom Adia keep track of her family in an outdoor setting. It’s a good learning experience for the first-time mom.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

The cubs continue to nurse and will do so until they are about 9 months old. They also are sampling solid foods such as ground turkey and beef.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.
When the cubs are not on view, their father Hubert and another female lion, named Kalisa, may be in the outdoor exhibit.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.
The cubs have not yet been named. We’ll invite you to name two of the cubs through a public contest coming up soon! More details on that to come.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.
These cubs are irresistible and a great way to spark in visitors a love for and commitment to big cats in the wild. The lions at Woodland Park Zoo belong to the South African subspecies, Panthera leo krugeri. The African lion is the only big cat not protected under the Endangered Species Act. As few as 32,000 African lions are estimated to remain in the wild and their future remains uncertain, particularly as the growth in human population continues to impact lion populations.

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

There is legal hunting of lions and retaliation killing because they pose a threat to humans and livestock. Sadly, lions are being increasingly killed in Africa to meet the demands of the illegal trade of wild animals and wild animal parts for the medicinal trade market in Asia.

Many lions have died in the Serengeti due to canine distemper. Lastly, expanding agricultural and grazing regions have greatly reduced lion habitat, in turn increasing the risk of inbreeding and the loss of genetic viability.

Ruaha lioness and cubs in Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Ruaha Carnivore Project.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently completed a public comment period, and is currently conducting a review of the African lion’s status in order to determine if the lion requires protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service will review the best available scientific and commercial information from the public, range country governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry and other interested parties prior to issuing a proposal.

Through the zoo’s Wildlife Survival Fund, Woodland Park Zoo supports the Ruaha Carnivore Project through the Lion Species Survival Plan Conservation Campaign. The project works in Tanzania to mitigate human conflict with lions and other large carnivores that share the Ruaha landscape, while collecting baseline data on lion populations to help shape lion and large carnivore conservation.

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