Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has announced the names of their three African lion cubs born on November 21, 2014. The zoo hosted a week long naming contest to decide the names on OmahaZoo.com.
The zoo received 1,824 submissions for names which were all of African descent. Keepers then made a decision on which three names they wanted to use. The people who submitted the winning names will receive a zoo themed gift basket along with the unique gift of a painting by their cub.
The single female in the litter has been named Kimani which means “beauty” or “One who is beautiful and sweet.” This cub was named by Jeanne Mehser.
One of the males is a rare white lion and has been named Kayode which means “He brought joy.” This name was submitted by Samantha Cobb. This is a rare occurrence and a first at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. While the zoo’s conservation genetics department say the inheritance patterns of a white coat are not fully understood. It is believed that they come from a recessive gene which both of the tawny parents carry. It leads to reduced pigment.
Recently his coat has begun to go slightly blonde and keepers are waiting to see if he will stay blonde or go back to white.
The other tawny male was named Shango which means “Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning. This name was suggested by Jamie Simpson.
These lions are part of a breeding program which is specific to their subspecies krugeri. This is the focus for lion breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) Felid Taxon Advisory Group who want to breed lions of known lineage. 43 lion cubs have been born in North American AZA zoos over the past 12 months.
African lions are rated as vulnerable to extinction by International Union for Conservation of Nature. While they are not imminently at risk of disappearing they are under threat from humans killing them and their prey along with habitat loss. If conservation efforts are not in place they may go the way of the Asian lion which is very close to extinction with just 400 left.
Currently the cubs can be seen with their mother, Ahadi and aunt, Mfisha in the Cat Complex enclosure. Each of the cubs weighed in at 30 pounds (13.6kg) when they were weighed last week.
Photo Credit: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium