New elephants, lion cubs part of Birmingham Zoo expansion
jani, a 10-year-old African bull elephant, walks near a pond in the new Trails of Africa mixed-species exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo on July 21.
Published: Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
May was an extra-large month for arrivals at the Birmingham Zoo. The male African elephant herd, an ongoing facet of the Trails of Africa exhibit years in the making, swelled to three with the debut of Ajani May 13.
Then May 25 brought a pleasant surprise, being that lions tend to be not so showy about their pregnancies, with gestations just over 3 months.
The five lion cubs, three girls and two boys, aren’t yet on display, because they’re still bonding with parents Kwanzaa (dad) and Akili (mom).
“If they get a human scent on them, the mom won’t bond,” said Kate Lipscomb, marketing and public relations manger at the Birmingham Zoo.
Zoo officials expect the cubs to be available for viewing by the public sometime this fall, after they meet health and weight goals.
But also, as of yet, their tiny lion-cub feets are unable to climb the steps to the lion habitat.
In the meantime, you can somewhat dim the “Aww” factor by viewing video of the first three cubs’ births through links here:www.birminghamzoo.com/animals/african-lion-cubs. Warning: It’s a bit messy, this life-giving business, although after panting through Nos. 1 and 2, you’ll see No. 3 zip out almost comically fast, as if the footage was shot at the wrong speed.
Once you get over that, there’s also a link there to see all five of the babies nursing with Akili.
Back in 2007, the same year 60-year-old elephant Mona had to be put down after a long illness, the zoo announced its $12.5 million Trails of Africa expansion. Construction began last year on what will eventually be a 14-acre exhibit for white rhinos, reticulated giraffes, ostriches, red river hogs, zebra, kudu and other animals of the continent.