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National Zoo Lion Gives Birth to Cubs
The newborn cubs won’t go on display until late spring, but there’s already a lion cam. By Benjamin Freed
Lions! Photograph courtesy National Zoo.
Comments () | Published January 27, 2014

Believe it or not, the National Zoo actually has news about some of the non-panda species under its protection. The zoo welcomed two African lion cubs on Friday morning when Nababiep, a ten-year-old lioness, went into labor.

Nababiep delivered three cubs, although the middle one was stillborn, the zoo says. “The first few days of a lion cub’s life are very fragile,” Rebecca Stiles, an animal keeper in the zoo’s Great Cats exhibit, says in a Smithsonian press release. African lions have a mortality rate of about 30 percent in captivity, compared with 67 percent in the wild.

The zoo took little time in switching on two live camera feeds for animal lovers to gawk at Nababiep and the newborn litter. The lions won’t go back on public display until late spring, but already the cubs can be seen scampering about their den and playing with each other.


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  • Peebee

    It's called a DEN! (You know, lion den?) Mothers and small cubs feel more safe and experience less stress in a smaller confined environment, which of course will be expanded as is appropriate to their age and development. A small cub could drown with a water dish, and the cubs are far too young to play with "toys." Also, you may recall a cub from the same mother died a few days after birth several years ago from aspirating straw being used as bedding material, so the smaller the space, the less foreign material is needed for bedding. If you're a National Zoo cam watcher, you might realize that Bao Bao the panda cub is in a similar confined den space, and frequently retreats to it to sleep (as is entirely normal for a cub her age: if she were in the wild, the mother would put her in a safe location so that she could leave the cub to forage for the day.)

  • Toledo

    After watching it a second time, I have realized that their space is smaller than my closet, and they only have white cement walls to look at. A National zoo can't afford to give them a better living environment? On the ones that people can see need to be a "decent" size?

  • Toledo

    My thoughts exactly.... Not even a water dish or toy.

  • Jillian Marohnic

    Why are they in such an ugly unnatural environment?

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Posted at 04:33 PM/ET, 01/27/2014 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Blogs