Lion gives birth to three cubs at Woodland Park Zoo


The lion family at Woodland Park Zoo gained three brand new members on Friday. Three male cubs were born to 5-year-old mother Adia and 7-year-old father Xerxes.

The cubs are the first to be born since Adia gave birth to four cubs with a different male in 2012.

Zookeepers are keeping the cubs in an off-view maternity den where the new family can bond in peace and quiet. Before the cubs were reunited with their mom, the animal health team performed a quick health assessment and confirmed that the cubs were all male. Xerxes remains separated from his cubs and Adia for the time being.

Zookeepers will continue to monitor the new family 24 hours a day and, according to Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator Martin Ramirez, mom and her cubs are bonding and nursing well. Check out the video from the maternity den below:

“Animal management staff are closely monitoring the litter via an internal cam to ensure the mom is providing good maternal care and the cubs are properly nursing. The mom and cubs will remain off public view until they are a bit older and demonstrate solid mobility skills. In addition, outdoor temperatures need to be a minimum of 50 degrees,” said Ramirez.

When they are born lion cubs typically weigh about 3 pounds and are born with their eyes closed. The cubs will open their eyes within a week or two after birth.

To ensure that the cubs are in good health, zoo veterinarians will be performing health checks on the cubs every couple of weeks for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling.

The cub’s parents travelled far to join the Woodland Park Zoo family and were specifically paired together. Xerxes arrived in spring from El Paso Zoo in Texas to be paired with Adia under a breeding recommendation by the SSP for African lions. Adia came to Woodland Park in 2010 from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio.

Xerxes arrived in the spring from El Paso Zoo to be paired with Adia under a breeding recommendation by the SSP for African lions. Adia arrived in 2010 from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio.

SSPs is a complex system that matches animals in North American zoos based on genetic diversity and demographic stability. Pairings also take into consideration the behavior and personality of the animals.

The lions at Woodland Park Zoo belong to the South African subspecies, Panthera leo krugeri, which are native to the area between Southern Sahara and South Africa.

According to Woodland Park Zoo, the African lion is the only big cat not protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is estimated that only 32,000 African lions remain in the wild and have uncertain futures due to human population growth.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Ruaha Carnivore Project through the Lion Species Survival Plan Conservation Campaign. To help support the project, adopt a lion through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.

Photo courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo. Photo credit – Dr. Darin Collins. 

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