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Lion Update Feb 6, 2014

A few days ago, African lion mother Naba spent some time away from her cubs and enjoyed a special oxtail treat with her sister Shera. Keepers took the opportunity to get their first in-person look at the cubs. Their report: they are adorable! In order to distinguish the two, keepers shaved a small mark on each cub. The smaller, who weighs 7.6 pounds, has a shave mark on his/her left shoulder. The larger cub, who weighs 8.26 pounds, has a small shave mark at the base of his/her tail. Animal care staff have not yet verified the cubs' sex. (Just shy of two weeks old, the cubs' genetalia have not fully developed.)

When Naba returned to the cubbing den, she groomed and nursed the cubs. She didn't show any signs of stress. Keepers gave her the option to move the cubs to a different set of cubbing dens, but Naba choose to keep them where they were.

lion cub held by keeperlion cub cries

Photos by Karen Abbott, Smithsonian's National Zoo