Play “Circle of Life” because a zoo has announced the birth of four adorable newborn lions.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden revealed earlier this week that Dunia, the 7-year-old lioness, had given birth to four African lion pups.
The birth was called a “major event” because it was the first litter of lion cubs to be born at the zoo in 15 years and the first litter for the lion mom. It was also an important step toward keeping this rare species alive.
There are three girls and one boy in the litter. They are said to have arrived on September 26 and have been doing well under zoo supervision, nursing from their mother and meeting all of their main milestones.
“Throughout her pregnancy, delivery, and now care of these four kids, Dunia has been remarkable and is demonstrating great mother care,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores, in a press statement.
The IUCN considers African lions to be a vulnerable species, with a falling population owing to unlawful killing and habitat destruction. According to estimates, there are fewer than 40,000 adult African lions in the world.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions, and Dunia was mated with 10-year-old male lion Hubert based on the SSP’s suggestion. Their new offspring are a significant step toward the preservation of this magnificent species.
“This birth is critical to the African lion population and is the result of years of hard work, dedication, and devotion on the part of the Oklahoma City Zoo and its sponsors, the African Lion SSP, and the Zoo’s carnivore care staff,” Boyd said.
The newborn cubs presently weigh between 2 and 2.5 pounds and have a long way to go: male lions range between 330 and 570 pounds when fully grown, while females weigh between 270 and 400 pounds.
The lion cubs will be slowly and carefully introduced to the rest of the pride at the zoo, including their father Hubert, until they get their shots.