Posted on 11/28/2017 at 03:26 PM by Ryan Bickel
Blank Park Zoo welcomes three lion cubs to Blank Park Zoo.
On November 14, 2017, Neema the lion gave birth to a litter of lion cubs. Of the five cubs that were born, three survived. There are two females and one male. The male cub is small for his age and staff are supplementing his feeding to help him grow as big as his sisters. The cubs and mom are spending quality time together and cannot yet be seen. We will let you know when you can see them at Blank Park Zoo.
Here is our press release about the cubs:
DES MOINES, Iowa (November 28, 2017) – Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today that “Neema” the lion has successfully given birth to two female and one male lion cubs on November 14. The cubs weighed 1.46 kg, 1.37 kg and 1.2 kg at their first physical on November 20.
“Neema has been a very attentive and protective mother to the cubs,” said Dr. June Olds, chief veterinary programs officer. “We suspect the cubs were a bit underweight at their first physical because it was a large litter.”
Staff have been supplementing the feeding of the third cub, a male, because he is currently a week behind in his growth compared to the other cubs and his condition is considered ‘guarded.’ Two other cubs, born four hours after the initial three, failed to thrive and unfortunately did not survive.
“We are going to continue to evaluate his milestones and supplement him as needed. I am very impressed that ‘Neema’ has been allowing us to do that,” said Olds.
Blank Park Zoo staff never ‘goes in’ with dangerous animals such as lions, so for keepers to attend to the cubs, ‘Neema’ has to ‘shift’ to another room.
“Deuce,” Blank Park Zoo’s male lion, arrived at Blank Park Zoo in 2012 and “Neema” and “Kadi,” Blank Park Zoo’s female lions arrived at the Tom and Jo Ghrist Great Cats Complex in June of this year from the Santa Barbara Zoo. The lions are part of the Species Survival Plan and “Deuce” and “Neema” were given a breeding recommendation by the SSP.
“As we see populations of lions declining in their natural habitats, these cubs will play an important role in saving lions for the future,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO. “The population of lions has decreased by more than 40 percent in the past 20 years.”
The cubs and Neema are spending quality time together and are not currently available to be seen by visitors. Before visitors will be allowed to see them, the cubs must go through a series of vaccinations which will take a few months. Blank Park Zoo will be setting up some remote viewing options for visitors in the coming weeks.
The cubs have not yet been named. Zoo officials will release the plan for naming the cubs in the coming days.
Blank Park Zoo will be giving a donation to the Ruaha Carnivore Project in honor of the cubs. A portion of every dollar spent at Blank Park Zoo is used to help save animals in their natural habitats.
About African Lions
The African lion lives in savannas and semi-arid regions of east and south Africa. It is a carnivorous animal and diet in its natural habitat includes buffalo, zebra, antelope, giraffe and more. At Blank Park Zoo, they eat up to eight pounds of beef a day. Lions are the only social cat and live in groups called prides. Males are larger, have big manes for protection, while females are smaller, faster and excellent hunters. Unlike tigers, lions conserve energy and will sleep/rest up to 20 hours a day.
The IUCN lists the African lion as ‘vulnerable’ and populations are declining. Threats include loss of habitat because of human encroachment and poaching. Wild lions have seen a 42% decrease in the last 21 years, with approximately 20,000 – 30,000 remaining in natural areas and are regionally extinct in seven African countries.
Blank Park Zoo supports The Ruaha Carnivore Project which helps decrease lion/human conflict. The organization works with communities to build livestock enclosures and helps raise livestock guarding dogs that live alongside and bond with livestock, fiercely protecting them from carnivores. This protects the carnivores from retaliation from farmers. They also are researching lions to create more effective conservation efforts. Finally, they work with Massai tribes to host competitive sporting events for coming-of-age ceremonies that replace traditional lion hunts.