By Alex Frisch
They made a wish, and three came true! For the first time in over 2 years, and only the third time in lion cubs at the Utah Hogle Zoo. With the grand opening of the African Savanna exhibit completed in 2014 and under the scrupulous standards and recommendation of the Species Survival Plan, gumptious brothers Baron and Vulcan, along with beautiful sisters Nobu and Sela were brought in to create the epicenter of the incredible exhibit area. “After a 10 year absence, it’s great to have African lions back in the Zoo and doing so well in their new home at the African Savanna area,” said Zoo Executive Director, Craig Dinsmore.
Once the two lovely females were large enough and acclimated to their new high altitude surroundings, they were carefully introduced to the magnificent males. Needless to say, things went extremely well and love was certainly in the air. Aft er the typical 110-day gestation period, Nobu went into labor without much warning and delivered all three cubs within six hours.
“There is always some anxiety because you’ll never know what kind of mom they’ll be,” said Valerie Schubert, primary lion keeper. Each little cub weighed roughly two pounds at birth and for now have been sticking close to mom as they will be bonding for the next several weeks. “She was a great first-time mom, as soon as they arrived,” Schubert said, “she immediately started cleaning them and they started nursing right away.
The keepers are also working on the nuances of introducing “auntie” Sela to the cubs. Once they’re all happy and safe together, they’ll need to introduce them to the big boys — Baron, their father, and “uncle” Vulcan. Th is process can take several weeks of careful observation but the zoo staffers are hopeful as they have already seen positive, monitored interactions between Sela and the cubs as well as their proud papa Baron. “Now to have our first cubs born here in over twenty years is just wonderful and with lions in Africa facing greater and greater peril, this birth is important.” In keeping with the Zoo’s tradition of providing the most authentic and enriching environment for the animals, the three cubs will remain with the Hogle pride for the first 1-2 years of their lives.
The males will do their part in preserving their grandiose bloodlines while the female will remain at the Hogle Zoo. Guests will be able to visit the full pride this summer so make sure the entire family doesn’t miss out on this incredible journey of life, preservation and education.