SINGAPORE, 26 January 2021 – Singapore’s very own Simba was born on 23 October 2020. The male lion cub was conceived through assisted reproduction at the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre in Singapore Zoo. Keepers and veterinarians worked to collect semen from Simba’s father Mufasa, a geriatric lion, using the process of electro-ejaculation. In a bittersweet twist, the cub will never know his father as the latter was not revived following the procedure. His deteriorating health was a key factor.
African lions in the wild have an average lifespan of 10-14 years. Mufasa lived to the ripe old age of 20 but did not sire any cubs in his lifetime because of his aggressive behaviour which did not bring about successful pairings with any female. Yet his genes would be of high value in contributing to the genetic diversity and sustainability of African lion populations in zoological institutions. This species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology, Singapore Zoo’s animal care team was able to harness artificial insemination as a means of preserving Mufasa’s bloodline. Lioness Kayla was identified as an ideal candidate for the assisted pregnancy as she was a proven breeder.