Last Thursday, April 23, the Denver Zoo celebrated the birth of two new lion cubs — a joyous addition to its pride of African lions, which is now seven members strong. The cubs are currently unnamed and their sex has not been determined. Their mother, a four-year-old lioness named Kamara, will take care of them behind the scenes in a den for two months before gradually introducing them to the rest of the pride.
“We are watching Kamara closely to make sure she’s showing appropriate maternal behaviors, like nursing and grooming,” said assistant curator of predators Matt Lenyo, in a press release. “She learned a lot by watching Neliah and interacting with Tatu last year, which really prepared her to be a mom. We’re seeing a lot of positive signs that things are going well, and will continue to keep a close eye on her and the cubs in these critical first days and weeks.”
Our African lion pride just got even bigger! Our two new cubs were born to mom, Kamara, & dad Tobias. Kamara & the cubs will stay behind the scenes in their den box, which mimics the space Kamara would seek out to give birth in the wild. Learn more: https://t.co/m1GTkdIIX3 pic.twitter.com/nR6MCqx9IC
— Denver Zoo (@DenverZoo) April 28, 2020
The father of the two cubs is Tobias, a four-year-old male brought over from the Buffalo Zoo to the Denver Zoo in late 2018 at the recommendation of the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), which works to create genetically diverse populations of lions within Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. The number of African lions worldwide has been cut in half over the past 25 years, and the species listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The SSP’s program leader, Hollie Colahan, works at the Denver Zoo.
In the summer of 2019, Tobias and another female in the Denver Zoo’s pride, Neliah, became parents to another young lion, Tatu.
The Denver Zoo closed to the public at 4 p.m. on March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak, but animal care professionals have continued to provide vital nutritional, medical, emotional and physical care to the Zoo’s nonhuman residents. The exact date that the Zoo will resume its normal operations is still under assessment.
The Zoo relies on ticket sales and public events to fund the care of its animals, so it set up an Emergency Response Fund to keep operations running without access to its main sources of income. It has almost reached its goal of raising $20,000 in donations — help push them over that threshold by donating here.