News Column

Hello, kitties: NC Zoo welcomes four newborn lions

August 6, 2014

By Kara Bettis, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Aug. 06--ASHEBORO -- If you need a kitty fix, head over to the N.C. Zoo this fall for a glimpse of frolicking lion cubs.

Last week, the zoo's African lions, Mekita and Reilly, became the parents of four cubs.

The quadruplets are the zoo's first lion cubs since October 2006, when Reilly fathered three cubs with a different lioness. The zoo has welcomed a total of 22 lion cubs since it opened in 1974.

Mekita and Reilly bred at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Lion Species Survival Plan, which will also recommend where the cubs will ultimately live.

Zoo staff haven't handled the cubs yet, so their gender and exact size is unknown. The staff will discuss how to name them later this week.

Zoo visitors will be able to view the lions this fall. A spokesman said zoo officials hope the lions will stay in North Carolina for up to a year before moving to other zoos.

"In the wild, male cubs leave the pride they are born into," said Jennifer Ireland, an animal management supervisor looking after the lions. "So our new cubs will eventually go to a new home."

Mommy Mekita is resting in her secluded den with the new arrivals. No one -- including the cubs' father -- has visited the cubs yet. But lion lovers can glimpse the nursing cubs from a hidden camera on the zoo's Facebook page.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., zoo staff will celebrate World Lion Day at the lion exhibit, with games, crafts and lion education.


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Source: News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)

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