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Lion Cubs’ First Introduction

Last week, keepers started introductions between Shera and Naba’s cubs! Keepers watch these interactions closely in the event that the cubs need to be separated. Fortunately, everyone has been getting along fine.

As part of the Zoo’s animal management plan for big cats, African lions are weighed routinely—at least once every two days. At this age, the cubs are expected to gain between 150-300 grams every 48 hours. On Monday, Shera’s cubs had all gained weight. During the Wednesday weigh-in, however, one of the male cubs had not gained any weight. Keepers performed an impromptu body-check on the cub and discovered that his right-front leg was a bit lame. Because interactions between the lions have all gone smoothly, keepers did not suspect that the play dates played a role in the cub’s lameness. The lack of weight gain prompted keepers to call Zoo veterinarians for a consultation.

Vets examined the cub, who had no external wounds. Radiographs of the cub’s leg showed no broken bones or muscle injuries. The lameness appears to be due to a swollen elbow joint. Vets obtained a blood sample, and initial reports found a high white blood cell count and a low red blood cell count. Vets administered antibiotics and iron supplements and the cub will continue on antibiotics for several days. The cub is not quite out of the woods yet, but thanks to the early action and assessments by animal care staff, he has the best chance possible. Keepers and vets will continue to monitor him closely.

For now, his attitude is “good and spunky” according to staff. He’s rejoined his family. You can see him and his siblings on the Cub cam.