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Welcome to the world, lion cubs!

Posted by: Gigi Allianic and Rebecca Whitham, Communications

Good things happen to those who wait, and we’ve been awaiting this good thing for 20 years—the birth of lions at Woodland Park Zoo!

Our 3-year-old South African lion Adia gave birth last night to four cubs following a gestation period of 109 days.

This is the first litter for mom Adia and 13-year-old father Hubert, and it’s also the first litter born at the zoo since 1991.

Right now the cubs are with mom in an off-view maternity den where the new family can bond in a hushed, comfortable environment. Our expert keepers and veterinarian staff are closely monitoring the litter via an internal web cam to ensure Adia is providing excellent maternal care and the cubs are properly nursing.

The first 48 to 72 hours after a birth are critical, particularly among mammals. Adia is a first-time mother so naturally there is concern, but we are cautiously optimistic she will instinctively provide attentive maternal care to her cubs.

We do not yet know the genders of the cubs, but we’ll be sure to share the news here when we get confirmation.

Lions are born blind and they’ll begin to open their eyes within a week or two after birth. As part of the exemplary animal care and health program for the zoo’s thousand-plus animals, zoo veterinarians will perform health checkups every couple of weeks for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling.

Adia arrived in 2010 from Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium under a breeding recommendation by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African lions. The complex system of SSPs matches animals in North American zoos based on genetic diversity and demographic stability. But, as mammal curator Martin Ramirez tells us, matchmaking efforts also take into consideration the behavior and personality of animals, and we’re very fortunate the attraction between Adia and Hubert was mutual and there was a connection!

Lion parents, Hubert (left) and Adia (right). Photos by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Of course, Adia and Hubert wouldn’t have hit it off without the many hours of time and care their keepers invested into the match, ensuring a successful introduction between the two. These cubs are a wonderful testament to their dedication.

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 also indoors and may not be on public exhibit throughout the weekend. 

OK, OK, so all you really want to know is when you get to see the little ones. The cubs will remain off view with their mother for some time as they grow and bond. They will be out for public viewing when they are a bit older and demonstrate good mobility skills, and when outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees.

We’ll keep you posted with exclusive behind-the-scenes photo and video updates here and at our lion cub webpage. Until then, say it with us…”Awwwwwwwwwwww!”


Anonymous said…
This is adorable! How common is it to have 4 cubs?
Anonymous said…
We think they are adorable and really cute, and can't wait to see them in person!
Anonymous said…
Congratulations Hubert and Adia and WPZ! Well done Martin and WPZ zoo keepers and staff. Definitely worth the wait!!!
Anonymous said…
Congratulations to all involved!
Anonymous said…

Nice to see our hometown zoo (I'm in Columbus) working so closely with other zoos to help protect and preserve these endangered species!
Mike said…
Great news! I hope that everyone had a nice and safe Veteran's Day! That goes for last year and all the other years that I've missed.
Anonymous said…
I'm so envious! 109 days. My last pregnancy was horrible and took 30 weeks before I was admitted into the hospital and I delivered at 35 weeks. Interminable 248 days for me! Way to go Adia!!! From one mom to another, keep up the good work.