Lincoln Park Zoo African Lion Cub Receives Name

Male lion cub at Pepper Family Wildlife Center named Pilipili; Continues to grow in size and strength behind the scenes

CHICAGO (May 5, 2022) Just in time for Mother’s Day, Lincoln Park Zoo announced that, after the African lion cub’s first routine veterinary exam, the cub is male and has been named Pilipili! The cub was born on March 15 and is the offspring of 3-year-old female Zari and 4-year-old male Jabari.

The cub’s name, Pilipili, 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.

“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.”

Lincoln Park Zoo Members will be among the first to catch a glimpse of the cub at Pepper Family Wildlife Center during a member-only preview. Not yet a member? Visit lpzoo.org/membership to join.

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.

Those interested in helping care for mom and cub all year long can shop the zoo’s Wish List at lpzoo.org/wishlist. You may also celebrate Mother’s Day with a Lion Cub ADOPT package at lpzoo.org/adopt.

For more information about African lions, the zoo’s partnership with KopeLion, or Lincoln Park Zoo, visit lpzoo.org.


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About Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at lpzoo.org.