Washington, D.C. Got Four more Pussies

Photo of Shera, the mother lion, DC National Zoo

Cats! Pussy Cats 🙂

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo celebrated this year’s second litter of African lion (Panthera leo) cubs yesterday. The 5-year-old lion Shera gave birth to a litter of 4 cubs.

The cubs have been mobile and appears to have nursed. Because it is not uncommon for intervals of several hours between births, keepers will continue to monitor Nababiep in case additional cubs are on their way.

The cub, whose sex is not yet known, will not be out in the yard until summer, so the public will be able to see the cub only via Lion Cam for now.

Introductions among Shera, Luke and Nababiep (Shera’s 6-year-old sister) began almost two years ago in an effort to build a pride. Six months ago, all three lions spent time in the yard together as a group for the first time. The introduction was a positive one, and Shera and Luke bred the second week of May. Over the past few weeks, keepers have gradually separated the three again to give Shera privacy and emulate the natural process. In the wild, lions may wait up to six weeks before introducing their cubs to the rest of the pride. Keepers predict the cubs will not be out in the yard, however, until late fall, which will give the Zoo’s animal keepers and veterinary team time to examine them and monitor Shera as she adjusts to being a first-time mother. She has privacy in her own cubbing den but also has the option of visiting Nababiep through a mesh door.
The birth of lion cubs marks the next step in building a pride, and keepers will slowly introduce the cubs to their aunt with the aim of eventually bringing all seven lions together. Keepers had a similar plan for Nababiep, who gave birth to a single male cub May 18. Unfortunately, a straw seed became lodged in the cub’s lung, and it died of pneumonia.

Nearly two weeks after Nababiep was reintroduced to the pride, she bred with Luke again. Keepers suspect that Nababiep is pregnant again and will monitor her behavior in the coming weeks.

Here is the clip as the little cats were born 🙂

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