SEATTLE ‒ Woodland Park Zoo’s 2-month-old African lions, two males and two females, got another clean bill of health following a checkup yesterday by the zoo’s veterinarians. Visit http://bit.ly/RKJ8eC for photos of the exam.
The cubs also played with a Seahawks football to show their 12th Man spirit for this weekend’s divisional playoff.
The cubs received vaccinations and weighed in at 21 to 23 pounds apiece, which is a normal weight at their age, according to Dr. Kelly Helmick, the zoo’s associate veterinarian. “We couldn’t be more pleased to report how well the cubs are doing. Each is developing within physical and social norms.”
The quadruplets mark the first offspring between the mother, 3-year-old Adia (ah-DEE-uh), and 13-year-old father, Hubert. The last birth of lions at Woodland Park Zoo occurred in 1991.
The cubs have not yet been named but the zoo plans to invite the public to help name two of the cubs in the near future. Stay tuned at www.zoo.org/lioncubs for more details to come.
The mother and cubs continue to live in an off-view maternity den where they can bond and develop in a more controlled environment.
“Adia has been protective of her cubs and has excellent maternal skills,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The cubs are very playful and rambunctious ‒ pouncing on mom, chasing her tail and playing with toys. They sleep and eat together, which are positive signs they are socially bonded. Most of their baby teeth have grown in so they’re sampling solid foods such as ground turkey and beef.”
The cubs will go out in the public exhibit when they are older and outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees. Until then, zoo-goers can watch recorded video of the cubs at a kiosk stationed at the lion exhibit or at Zoomazium, the zoo’s indoor nature play area.
The lions at Woodland Park Zoo belong to the South African subspecies, Panthera leo krugeri. A 13-year-old female lion, named Kalisa, also lives at the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna. Known as the Transvaal lion, it ranges in Southern Sahara to South Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest belt, in grassy plains, savanna and open woodlands. These lions range in weight from 260 to 400 pounds.
Although not presently endangered, the future of African lions is uncertain, particularly as the growth in human population continues to impact lion populations. Poachers hunt lions for trophies, and because they pose a threat to humans and livestock. Many lions have died in the Serengeti due to canine distemper. Lastly, expanding agricultural and grazing regions have greatly reduced lion habitat, in turn increasing the risk of inbreeding and the loss of genetic viability. Visit www.zoo.org for information on how to help preserve lions.
Woodland Park Zoo winter hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily. For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org or call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY).