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Lion Update Mar 7, 2014

Today, Nababeip's two cubs received their second routine veterinary exam. At almost a month and a half old, they weigh between 16 and 17 pounds. They both got a clean bill of health! Keepers also had the opportunity to get a first hands-on look at Shera's four cubs. We were able to get individual weights on the cubs, and give them each an identifying shave mark. Shera's cubs weigh between four and five pounds at just under a week of age, and their eyes have recently opened!

This is the earliest our keepers have ever been able to weigh lion cubs. Shera's five-day-old cubs had very similar weights to Naba's cubs when they were six days old. The last time Shera and Naba gave birth, keepers waited until each litter was at least two weeks old before weighing them. Obtaining weights and collecting lots of information about the cubs early on helps keepers learn more about what is normal for lion cubs.

Last week, keepers at the Great Cats exhibit put a GoPro camera in the den with Naba's cubs while mom was outside enjoying the sunshine. At first, the girls were a bit wary of the cam—hissing and stepping gingerly around it. Within 20 minutes, however, they felt comfortable going right up to the cam and even knocked it over!

Adding a novel items to the lions' environment is part of the Zoo's enrichment program. Not only do they physically and mentally stimulate the Zoo's residents, but also encourage animals to use their natural abilities and behaviors in new and exciting ways. Enrichment is an integral part of daily care and helps keepers ensure the Zoo's animals have a high quality of life.