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Lion cubs get a vet check-up

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Attention TGIFers: Here is your update on the most adorable trio in Seattle. Our wriggly little lion cubs aced their 6-week exams this morning. Zoo veterinarians gave the energetic cublets a clean bill of health and good marks on their growth milestones. The routine wellness exam included blood draws, vaccinations, weigh-ins and an overall health assessment for the three boys.
The cubs were a bit suspicious of the stethoscope, but all in all they were very calm during their exam. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
Throughout the exam the cubs were pretty quiet with a few occasional little growls. Their keepers were by their side at all times to reassure them. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
The cubs currently weigh between 15 and 17 pounds, which means they are getting plenty of mom’s milk and are growing quickly. The smallest cub is also the feistiest, just in case you were curious. 

“We’re very pleased to report that the cubs are feisty, as they should be, and strong,” said Dr. Darin Collins, Woodland Park Zoo’s director of Animal Health Programs. “They’re healthy, robust and within the normal weight range of lion cubs at their age. From the looks of their full, round bellies, they’re nursing regularly and Adia continues to be a good, attentive mother with her second litter.”

At this stage, the cubs’ fur is quite downy. As they grow, their under-fur will become thinner and their coat will become a bit more course. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

This video shows a quick recap of the exam including a very loud little patient. Video by Kirsten Pisto, Woodland Park Zoo.

The tiniest members of the pride remain off view in the maternity den where they are bonding in quiet surroundings and are monitored by zookeepers through a den cam. Dad Xerxes is on exhibit in the African Savanna daily and Mom Adia is given the option to go outdoors to the exhibit twice a day. “The cubs are developing increased mobility, which is a critical skill before they are introduced to the outdoor public exhibit”, explained mammal curator Martin Ramirez. “We also are waiting for warmer outdoor temperatures.”

The keepers work closely with vet staff to ensure a quick and smooth exam. Here the vet techs draw a bit of blood while keeper Christine soothes the cub. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.

Martin tells us that Dad Xerxes currently has limited access to his cubs, but he continues to show positive signs that he wants to bond. “We are drafting a plan for introducing Xerxes to his cubs and are confident that he will join Adia in the parenting role of teaching them how to be lions and roughhousing,” said Ramirez.

The cubs, born October 24, 2014 are now important ambassadors in the lion species survival program. Xerxes arrived in the spring from El Paso Zoo to be paired with Adia under a breeding recommendation by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African lions. Adia arrived in 2010 from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio. SSPs are a complex system that matches animals in North American zoos based on genetic diversity and demographic stability.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Ruaha Carnivore Project, which focuses on the importance of predators to healthy ecosystems, through the Lion Species Survival Plan Conservation Campaign. To help support the project, adopt a lion through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program:


Anonymous said…
What are the lion cubs names?
Anonymous said…
How will Xerxes be introduced to his cubs?
No official names just yet. Stay tuned!
Very, very carefully. :-) Xerxes has been able to see, hear and smell the cubs, which is an important first step. We hope to slowly introduce the animals together for short periods of time in the same physical space. We'll take our cue from mama Adia to determine when she might be comfortable with trying.
Unknown said…
Will Xerxes return to El Paso or will he remain at the Woodland zoo?
Xerxes will remain here and hopefully the whole pride will be together in the near future!