Woodland Park Zoo’s triplet Lion cubs are doing what cubs are supposed to do: grow, play, and get cuter every day.
The African Lion cubs, all males, were born at the zoo on October 24 to 5-year-old mother Adia and 7-year-old father, Xerxes--the first litter between the parents and the first for the father.
The cubs and mom remain in an off-view maternity den where they can bond in comfortable, quiet surroundings, and continue to be under the watchful eyes of zookeepers via a den cam. “Adia was an attentive mom to her first litter of 2012,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “It’s very encouraging to see her demonstrating good maternal care for this litter as well.”
The cubs’ eyes are now fully open, and the little Lions have more than doubled their weight since birth. According to Ramirez, the cubs currently weigh in at 6½ pounds for the smallest cub and nearly 8 pounds for the largest cub.
“It’s always fun to watch Lion cubs growing up and discovering their world. They’re a little clumsy walking around, they’re frisky and they’re playing with one another. Our cubs are doing what Lion cubs naturally do at 2 weeks old," added Ramirez.
The 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.
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. Pairings also take into consideration the behavior and personality of the animals.
Woodland Park Zoo’s Lions belong to the South African subspecies,Panthera leo krugeri. Known as Transvaal Lions, they range from the southern Sahara to South Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest belt, in grassy plains, savanna and open woodlands.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed listing the African Lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. As few as 32,000 African Lions are estimated to remain in the wild and their future remains uncertain. The three main threats facing African Lions at this time are habitat loss, loss of prey base, and increased human-Lion conflict.
See more pictures of the cubs below.