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National Zoo’s Three Youngest Lion Cubs Appear Healthy and Strong | Public Spaces

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National Zoo’s Three Youngest Lion Cubs Appear Healthy and Strong
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The story comes to us from the National Zoo:

At 2 weeks old, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s three African lion cubs born to 6-year-old Nababiep September 22 appear to be healthy, Zoo veterinarians said today, Wednesday, October 6, after completing the cubs’ first health exam.

“We’re happy to see that the cubs are growing and that each appears to be in good health,” said Dr. Jessica Siegal-Willott, supervisory veterinarian at the Zoo. “Naba has done a great job nursing them and we’ll continue to monitor their development.”

The veterinary team checked the cubs’ mouths and eyes, listened to their hearts and lungs and felt their bellies, but the animals are still too young to receive vaccines. The cubs weigh between 7 and 8 pounds.

Because the cubs are just 2 weeks old, animal care staff continues to be cautiously optimistic. The mortality rate for cubs younger than 1 year old in human care in 2009 was about 30 percent, compared to a 67 percent mortality rate for cubs in the wild. The cubs’ next exam will be in about a month.

On September 17, the Zoo’s four other lion cubs, born to Naba’s sister, Shera, August 31, underwent their first health exam and all four also appeared to be healthy.

Luke, the Zoo’s 5-year-old male lion, is father to all seven cubs and is the most genetically valuable lion in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions. An SSP matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population.

“We’re thrilled to have seven genetically valuable cubs that will grow up and go on to contribute to the continued genetic health of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ lion Species Survival Plan,” said Craig Saffoe, interim curator of the Zoo’s Great Cats Exhibit.

Several lion cub cams are online. To download high-resolution photos of the cubs, visit the National Zoo’s Flickr page. To follow the Zoo’s progress in building a pride and now caring for the cubs, read the updates from the Zoo’s lion keepers and check for news on the Zoo’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.

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