Curator Report: New Lion Cubs
We’ve had a traumatic few weeks at the zoo recently. Lioness Ajia gave birth to the NEW Zoo’s first lion cub but, unfortunately the baby did not survive. It is not unusual for first time mothers of many species to not be successful in their first attempt at raising young. Ajia was a very attentive mother but with only one cub to care for, it appears that her over enthusiastic grooming caused a problem. The baby’s umbilical cord did not heal over properly leaving a conduit for infection. Fortunately, Ajia seemed to recover from her loss quickly and has been happy and content back out on exhibit with male lion Shambe.
Lioness Etana gave birth to 3 cubs on 7/9/08. One cub did not survive. Three days after the birth, Etana began having contractions and it became apparent that she had retained an additional cub. This cub was, of course, not alive. An emergency C- section was required to remove the cub. Sadly, after a week and a half of multiple complications from this surgery, it became clear that Etana could not recover and she was humanely euthanized. Her death was an extremely emotional event for all of the staff, volunteers and friends of the zoo who knew her well. This tragedy reminds us that, for many species, childbirth (particularly for first time mothers) is a dangerous endeavor. We take comfort in the fact that we went to extreme measures and did all we could to try to save her.
On a happier note, Etana’s little cubs are strong, healthy and growing fast! The cubs (one boy and one girl) are being bottle raised and seem very well adjusted and happy. They first began play wrestling with each other on their 2 week birthday. Distinct personalities are starting to emerge and the little girl is reminding us more of her mother every day. The babies still require a late night feeding so they come home with me (or one of our fabulous zookeepers if I need a babysitter!) every night. In the morning, before the zoo is open, the cubs go for a visit to their father Shambe and their Aunt Ajia.
Our plan is for all of the lions to know each other well when the time comes for the cubs to join the family. Visitors can see the cute little cubs in the window of our Animal Hospital every day from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.