Five Rare African Lion Cubs Born at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo
October 19, 2004
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823
The Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo is privileged to announce the birth of five African Lion Cubs, three males and two females, on October 14, 2004.
“We’re so excited about having such rare animals born at our zoo,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “There are only 68 pedigreed African Lions in 214 American Zoo and Aquarium Association accredited zoos. It is an honor to play a valuable role in the survival of the endangered African Lion. The staff has done a tremendous job.”
”The cubs are about three pounds in weight, and developing well,” said Zoo Director Jim Hubing. “Several of the cubs were born with their eyes partially opened. Cubs may nurse for about six months but may begin eating some solid food at about three months of age,” said big cat keeper Shane Elsinger. The cubs will be on exhibit, weather permitting, in the spring.
The zoo’s web site will be updated weekly with current pictures.
Parents Henry and Vilas arrived at Henry Vilas Zoo in June of 1997 from a sanctuary in the Kalahari region of Africa. This is their second birth for the eight-year-old animals; a single male cub was born to them in July of 2003.
The African Lion Species Survival Plan, managed by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), recommended a second breeding for the pair; their offspring are very valuable to the success of the Species Survival Plan. Loss of habitat in both South and East Africa has endangered wild populations of lions.
Lions usually give birth every two years, with an average litter size of two to three cubs. More frequent and greater number of cubs born is an indication of excellent animal care.
“Vilas is extremely protective of her cubs,” said Hubing. Elsinger reports that the cubs move about more each day.
A sixth cub, smaller and born later that the other cubs, did not survive.
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