LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The National Zoo says March “came in like a lion” as four lion cubs were born March 2.
Just a little more than a month after 10-year-old lioness Nababiep birthed the zoo’s first litter of African lion cubs in four years on Jan. 24, 9-year-old Shera delivered four more cubs on Sunday.
It’s the second litter for Shera and the fifth for 8-year-old father, Luke. Luke also sired Nababiep’s cubs.
Animal care staff watched Shera give birth via a closed-circuit webcam and continue to monitor the family. All four cubs appear to be nursing, moving and vocalizing well.
African lion populations in the wild have dwindled by 30 percent during the past 20 years as a result of poaching, disease and habitat loss and are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The National Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Lion Species Survival Plan, a program that matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population.
Shera’s cubs will not be on exhibit until early summer, but they can be viewed via the Lion Cub Cam on the Zoo’s website.