African Lion Cub Receives Name

May 5, 2022

Lincoln Park Zoo is excited to share, after the African lion cub’s first routine veterinary exam, the cub is male and has been named Pilipili! The cub’s name means “pepper” in Swahili and honors the Pepper family, whose generous donation enabled the transformation of the historic lion house into Pepper Family Wildlife Center.

Photo courtesy of Jill Dignan.

“As the cub grows, he has become more curious and active and has been surpassing critical milestones such as leaving the den box and eating solid foods,” said Curator of Mammals Mike Murray. “Zari, a first-time mom, has provided incredible maternal care to the cub from nursing to grooming.”

The cub is doing well and remains in good health. Weighing roughly 2 pounds at birth, Pilipili now weighs in around 16 pounds. Pilipili will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks as he continues to grow and is introduced to the rest of the pride.

Murray continued, “We’re looking forward to Pilipili exploring the outdoor habitat at Pepper Family Wildlife Center in the coming weeks and to share this incredible cub with Chicago. Pilipili reminds us of the importance of conserving these majestic carnivores in Tanzania, a commitment Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to.”

The cub was born on March 15 and is the offspring of 3-year-old female Zari and 4-year-old male Jabari.

Photo courtesy of Allycia Darst.

Want to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the cub at Pepper Family Wildlife Center? Lincoln Park Zoo Members will have the opportunity to spot the cub during a member-only preview. Visit to join today!

African lions are large predators that can weigh up to 500 pounds. Males are larger than females and can be distinguished by their mane, which surrounds their head and extends to their chest. Lions are a social species who live in prides. This vulnerable species is found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and its habitat ranges from forests to shrublands and grasslands. Lion populations have declined for the past 100 years, with fewer than 20,000 lions remaining. Lincoln Park Zoo is a proud partner of the KopeLion Project based in Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, which strives to foster human-lion coexistence.

Celebrate Mother’s Day this year by helping care for mom and cub all year long by shopping the zoo’s Wish List or by purchasing a lion cub ADOPT package.

Photo courtesy of Jill Dignan.

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