Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Zoo’s Lion Pride Welcomes Three Adorable Cubs

New exhibit will allow up-close viewing when cubs debut in spring 2016

Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 

With their awesome strength and intense beauty, lions are one of Africa’s most iconic animals. Yet as these regal cats are in decline in the wild, three adorable newborns at the Indianapolis Zoo will help inspire awareness and support for conservation of the species.
The African lion cubs, two males and a female, were born on Sept. 21 to first-time parents, mother Zuri and father Nyack. When Zookeepers arrived that day, they found that 9-year-old Zuri had already delivered her first cub sometime during the night or early morning. The others followed around 10am and 1:15pm. These are the first lions born at the Zoo since 2003. Adult lions are one of the most fearsome predators on Africa’s plains, yet newborns are defenseless and rely solely on their mothers for survival. Zuri has shown excellent maternal behavior and is a caring, protective mom to her trio.

The youngsters are nursing well and growing, currently weighing between 7.5 and 9.5 pounds. Like all lion cubs, the Zoo’s babies were born with mottled fur. Their dark spots will eventually fade, though some young adults still show hints of brown in their sleek, golden coats.

Zuri and her cubs will remain indoors for several months to protect the health of the newborns. The family is expected to make its debut in spring 2016, and at that time guests will be able to get closer than ever before. Renovations are currently under way at the lion exhibit presented by MainSource Bank, where new glass windows and expanded viewing areas will allow visitors to get within inches of the ferocious felines.

Even before visitors have a chance to come face to fuzzy face with the new cubs, they can vote on the babies’ names through a poll on the Zoo’s Facebook page. More details will be announced soon. Indianapolis Zoo babies are presented by Hendricks Regional Health.
In the wild, lions are the only big cats that live in family groups, called prides. Males, distinguishable by their thick, dark manes, are the defenders of the pride and its territory, while the females hunt and provide for the group.

A formidable combination of power and prowess, these big cats have no natural predators. Yet lion populations throughout Africa have declined by an estimated 42 percent in the past 21 years due mainly to conflicts with humans, including poachers, farmers and trophy hunters. As a result, African lions are vulnerable to extinction. The Indianapolis Zoo is helping to preserve Africa’s biodiversity by supporting multiple conservation efforts there. Additionally, the lions at the Zoo serve as ambassadors, helping to raise awareness for the threats the species faces.


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