Three African lion cubs make debut at Bronx Zoo

The animal lineup at your local zoo just got a whole lot larger. At least, it will, once the new guys grow up. Last Friday, April 30, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo debuted its “new pride.” Three African lion cubs, born January 27, will finally be out in the zoo for the public to see. The triplets are only the second litter born at the zoo in the past three decades. Their mother, Sukari, is five and the father, M’wasi, is eight. Both have been staples at the zoo for four years.

Each weighed about five pounds at birth, and now are already at 25 pounds each. A press release says that the cubs are extremely curious, active and playful.

Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo, said that it’s standard procedure to raise new animals behind the scenes, but with these lion cubs in particular, the long wait was due to climate. “They’re fairly cold-tolerant but keep in mind they are from Africa,” said Breheny. “The ground here was wet and damp, so there was no rush to get them outside until it was spring.”

Breheny himself didn’t even get to see the animals until eight weeks after they were born. The cubs were raised in private holding rooms that zoo staffers refer to as “bedrooms,” and could only be handled by the people who work with large cats and who the mother and father knew already.

Breheny said that the zoo had a giant weekend after unveiling the cubs Friday. “This past weekend everyone here was asking directions to the African Plains section.”

Next up for the playful trio is to get names, which will be the goal of a contest held by the zoo. Zoo staffers say the contest is great because the first thing children ask when they check out the new lions is what they are named. At the moment, that question has no answer.

Still, anonymous or not, animal lovers will undoubtedly be excited.

Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or droberts@cnglocal.com

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