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Lion cubs make public debut at Ohio’s Columbus Zoo

Lion cubs take stage at zoo today

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:31 AM
By Jim Woods
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Three lion cubs born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will make their public debut today, months earlier than expected.

Columbus Zoo officials originally anticipated that the cubs, born on Sept. 22, wouldn’t be displayed until sometime in the spring.

“Honestly, we wanted to lower everyone’s expectations in case we couldn’t get them out there until the spring,” said Patty Peters, associate zoo director of community relations.

Today’s appearance is expected to begin about 10 a.m. and might last no more than an hour, zoo officials said. The mother, Asali, and cubs are doing well, and the unseasonably warm weather is allowing the zoo to lift the curtain on its new attraction.

“They are actually gaining weight at a much quicker rate (than expected). Asali, even though she is a first-time mom, is doing an excellent job of rearing them,” Peters said.

The male cub has been named Kitambi and the females are Adia and Mekita. Tomo, also a lion at the Columbus Zoo, is the father.

Zoo officials are excited because the three are the first lion cubs to be born at the Columbus Zoo since 1985.

Lions had not been bred in North American zoos for decades because of inbreeding and other inappropriate pairings in earlier years. The lion population worldwide has declined 50 percent in the past 20 years.

These lion cubs are coming from a pure genetic line, Peters said.

She also stressed that there is no guarantee the cubs can be seen every day.

“It will be dependent on the weather and whether mom wants to take them out,” Peters said.

jwoods@dispatch.com

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/11/24/lioncub.ART_ART_11-24-09_B8_3IFPJNH.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

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