The evening of Sunday August 16 saw Columbus Zoo and Aquariums lion pride expand by four with cubs being born. But they didn’t stop there with another mum giving birth to three cub’s four days later. Unfortunately one of these passed away just after birth but the other six continue to thrive.
For mum Asali and dad, Tomo this is their second litter. This marks the first time the zoo has had lion cubs since September 2009.
Currently the cubs and mum are exploring their exhibit and bonding meaning it is off display to the public. Their gender is yet to determined.
Following the birth Tom Stalf, President and CEO of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said, “We were overjoyed last week to announce that Kazi is pregnant, and absolutely elated about the successful births of her sister, Asali. With lion populations showing steady decline in the wild, we are proud to be a part of the conservation efforts of these majestic animals.”
Animal care staff were not 100% confident that Asali would have some cubs. Normally an endocrinologist would determine that there was a spike in progesterone levels indicating a birth. Asali’s remained low up until the birth though.
Kazi gave birth to her three cubs four days after Asali. Keepers had already moved her to an indoor cubbing den before the birth. Her cubs are half-siblings to those of her sister Asali. Unfortunately soon after birth her third cub who appeared weak at birth.
Keepers think that it will be a few weeks before the cubs come out into their exhibit for visitors to see.
These pairings come from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan who help to maintain a stable population of pedigreed lions in North America. The pairs of lions at Columbus Zoo are two of just 61 pairs recommended to breed in North America. Currently 339 African lions can be found in 98 AZA accredited institutions.
Zoological breeding programs are important if the lion is to be pulled back from the brink of extinction. Their number continues to plummet having fallen 42% in the past 20 years. Prey depletion, habitat loss, bushmeat trade and sport hunting have all contributed to the steep decline of this species.
Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium