April 27, 2020
Denver Zoo Celebrates the Arrival of Two African Lion Cubs
Denver Zoo’s African lion pride grew even bigger on Thursday, April 23 with the arrival of two lion cubs.
The cubs, a boy and a girl, were born to mom, Kamara, 4, and dad, Tobias, 4. Animal care staff say both mom and her cubs are healthy and bonding behind the scenes in Benson Predator Ridge. The cubs join the rest of the pride that includes an unrelated female, Sabi, 7, Kamara’s mom, Neliah, 7, and their half-brother, Tatu, who was born to Neliah and Tobias on July 25, 2019.
“We are watching Kamara closely to make sure she’s showing appropriate maternal behaviors, like nursing and grooming,” said Assistant Curator of Predators Matt Lenyo, “She learned a lot by watching Neliah and interacting with Tatu last year, which really prepared her to be a mom. We’re seeing a lot of positive signs that things are going well, and will continue to keep a close eye on her and the cubs in these critical first days and weeks.”
Half of Africa’s lions have disappeared in the past 25 years and the species faces growing threats from poaching, loss of prey and habitat destruction. The cubs’ birth is another success for the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy, genetically diverse populations of lions within Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. The SSP recommended Tobias move from Buffalo Zoo to Denver Zoo in 2018 as a potential mate for both Kamara and Neliah.
“Kamara and Tobias were a very genetically-valuable match,” said General Curator Emily Insalaco. “And these cubs are an important contribution to the species’ population in AZA facilities, and will help inspire visitors to learn more about their wild cousins.”
Kamara and the cubs will stay behind the scenes for approximately two months to give them time to bond and gradually introduce the cub to the rest of the pride. They'll primarily stay in their den box, which the Animal Care team provides to mimic the space Kamara would seek out to give birth in the wild. Kamara will still have access to other holding areas behind the scenes, but the addition of the den box gives her a sense of security for her and her cub.
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