15 YEARS IN THE MAKING – OKC ZOO CELEBRATES BIRTH OF FOUR AFRICAN LION CUBS
September 30, 2022
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s animal family continues to grow with the recent birth of four African lion cubs! Following an approximately 100-day gestation, the OKC Zoo’s lioness, Dunia, 7, gave birth to her first litter of cubs, three females and a male, on Monday, September 26 at the Zoo’s Lion Overlook habitat. This is an incredibly significant event as it has been 15 years since the last litter of African lion cubs was born at the OKC Zoo.
Dunia was in labor from approximately 7:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Zoo’s carnivore care team observed the births through video monitoring and reported that all four cubs were nursing within hours of being born and successfully meeting their first major milestone. Mom and her cubs are in good health and will remain behind-the-scenes in their indoor dens at Lion Overlook as they spend time together bonding.
“We are incredibly excited to share the news about the recent additions to our African lion pride,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores. “Throughout her pregnancy, birth and now care of these four cubs, Dunia has been amazing and is showing excellent maternal care. This birth is vital to the African lion population and has been a culmination of years of hard work, dedication and commitment by the Oklahoma City Zoo and its supporters, the African Lion SSP and the Zoo’s carnivore care team. We cannot wait to watch these cubs grow up and become fan favorites for years to come.”
The OKC Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan®(SSP) for African lions which made the recommendation for Dunia to breed with the OKC Zoo’s male lion, Hubert, 10. This is the first litter born to this breeding pair. SSP programs oversee the population management of select species within AZA member zoos and aquariums.
The Zoo’s veterinary care team performed wellness exams on the new arrivals to determine each cubs’ sex, check their vitals and obtain weights. Each cub currently weighs 2 to 2.5 pounds and they all have opened their eyes. The quadruplets will remain off public view until they are old enough to receive their first round of vaccinations and safely navigate their outdoor habitat. Caretakers will soon introduce pride members dad, Hubert, and lioness, Moto, Dunia’s sister, to the cubs through a “howdy” process. Hubert and Moto will be able to see and smell the cubs but not share space with them. This will be very a gradual process guided by Dunia’s comfortability and positive behaviors from all individuals. Once caretakers witness these behaviors they will proceed with the next step of the introduction process and bring the pride together.
African lions are classified as vulnerable by the the International Union for Conservation of Nature with wild populations decreasing due to illegal hunting, habitat loss, loss of food sources and conflict with humans. It is estimated that the total population of lions in Africa is less than 40,000 mature individuals. In 2021, the OKC Zoo provided money from its Round Up for Conservation Fund to help three conservation organizations based in Africa with their efforts to reduce human-predator conflict. Specifically, these organizations provide local farmers with livestock guard dogs and predator-deterrent enclosures in exchange for commitments from the farmers not to harm predators, including lions, on their land. This keeps both livestock and predators, including lions, cheetahs and African painted dogs safe. Through the Round Up for Conservation Fund, OKC Zoo’s guests are helping protect lions and hundreds of other species around the world.
Lions are found throughout most ecoregions of Africa – forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland and desert – and are the most social of all cats. They live in groups called prides that average about 15 members, but can range from 3 to 40. Females usually live with the same pride for life, but males often leave when they are a few years old.
Show your love “four” our little lions and support our $15 for 15 giving opportunity. Celebrate the exciting birth of our African lion cubs at the OKC Zoo after 15 years by donating $15 to the Zoo! To give, text LionCubs to 41444 or visit www.ozsgiving.org/15for15.
Follow the Zoo’s social channels, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, for all the lion cub updates and cuteness you can take!
Fall for all the Zoo’s new arrivals including Asian elephant, Rama; Sumatran tiger cubs, Luna and Bob; okapi calf, Nzadi; and most recent additions, four African lion cubs! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Connect to wildlife and tons of fun as you experience the all new BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise at the OKC Zoo before it ends. Sponsored by Devon, BRICKLIVE features 45+ life-sized animal statues made with almost two million toy bricks! BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. now through October 30, 2022. Purchase advance tickets for general Zoo admission and BRICKLIVE at www.okczoo.org/tickets. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.
Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.