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Zoo’s pride triples

3 June 2004

Zoo’s pride triples

Auckland Zoo’s March-born cubs, Zulu and Zalika, now have four new play mates, following the birth of two male and two female cubs to their five-year-old 'grandmother' Kura.

The yet-to-be named cubs, now seven weeks old, are “very active, and very vocal”, and in a couple of weeks will leave their den and venture outside at Lion Hill for short periods with mum, say keepers.

These latest additions have swelled the pride to 11. Older cubs Zulu and Zalika can now be seen out regularly with mum Amira, and with these latest additions, visitors can expect to see even more action at Lion Hill in the months ahead, where three generations are now represented.

It is not known yet whether second-time mum Kura and her three-year-old daughter Amira’s off-spring have the same 'dad', as the zoo is still awaiting test results to confirm paternity, which will be either Lazarus or Ngala, or both!

These two South African-born males, who arrived at Auckland Zoo last May, are from two different bloodlines – both excellent, and completely new to the Australasian region. Both lots of cubs are in demand, and will eventually be relocated to other zoos in the region.

Keepers say the male cubs, which now each weigh in at over 6.5kg, are very feisty during their regular weigh-in and vet checks, and are noticeably bigger than their female siblings.

In the wild, lions breed throughout the year, but all females in a pride tend to give birth at the same time, so Amira and Kura’s closely timed births are not unusual.

“Integration of Kura’s cubs with the rest of the pride needs to be a gradual process,” says Pridelands Team Leader Michael Batty.

“Initially they’ll just go out with mum, and then be introduced to Kura’s daughter Amira before meeting the older cubs, other adult female Sheeka and males Lazarus and Ngala. Lions are the most social of all cats, and these six cubs are going to have a lot of fun growing up together," says Mr Batty.

Results of a naming competition being held today on the TV 2 programme 'Studio 2' will be announced on tomorrow’s show.

Note to the editors: CONSERVATION STATUS: Lions are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), with an estimated population size of less than 10,000 mature breeding individuals. “The continuing declining trend is due to habitat loss, causing lions to increasingly enter human populated areas where they are not welcome”, says Auckland Zoo Life Sciences Manager Maria Finnigan.

ENDS

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