#LionWatch: The Three Lion Cubs Are All Male!

February 23, 2023

If you have been following Lincoln Park Zoo’s updates on the lion cubs born January 9 to African lioness Zari, you know that they have been growing in strength, exploring the indoor area outside of their den, and meeting important milestones behind the scenes.

This week, the cubs had their very first veterinary exams at six weeks of age. The veterinary team has determined that all three are boys! They weighed roughly 2 pounds at birth, but now tip the scales at a robust 15-18 pounds each.

During this examination, the lion cubs received their first vaccinations. They each also had a portion of hair on their forearms shaved to make it easier for the zoo’s animal care team to quickly identify each individual cub before they develop additional distinctive markings.

Eight-minute Exam

To minimize disruption to the natural bonding behaviors between mother and cubs, a team of 18 keepers, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians carefully choreographed an approach that allowed all cubs to receive needed care in under eight minutes. Meanwhile, mom Zari participated in a training session in a separate space.

In fact, this vet visit is the first time staff have had directed physical contact with the cubs—and this may be the only time it happens.

“Since their birth, we have been monitoring the cubs and Zari via remote cameras,” said Dr. Lester E. Fisher Director of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Kathryn Gamble, D.V.M., M.S., Dipl ACZM, Dip ECZM. “Zari has been an incredible mother thus far and the goal is not to intervene with the cubs unless medically necessary.”

Here’s Dr. Gamble explaining the procedure:

What to Expect in Coming Weeks

Over the next several weeks, the cubs will begin voluntary, positive training enforcement sessions designed to let them participate in their own healthcare—just like their mother did when she assisted in her own ultrasound before the birth. The cubs will remain behind the scenes until Zari determines that they are ready to be introduced to the rest of the family pride.

In the meantime, father Jabari, aunts Hasira and Cleo, and big brother Pilipili can be seen in the African lion habitat at Pepper Family Wildlife Center. Zari has also been taking brief breaks outside as the cubs become more independent.

The zoo will continue to post regular #LionWatch updates on its Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter channels as the cubs continue to grow. So, stay tuned for more adorable pictures of the entire pride, news about naming, and an announcement when the cubs debut in the outdoor habitat.

And don’t forget: members will be able to see them first at an exclusive preview event when the lion cubs come outside, so now’s a good time to join!

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