Escondido, California - Four African lion cubs cautiously followed their mother out of their den onto their new exhibit this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. To the delight of Safari Park visitors, the cubs provided lots of ooh and aah moments, and plenty of photo opportunities, as they approached the viewing windows at Lion Camp and then began exploring the habitat. The cubs mostly followed mom's lead while exploring, but occasionally, bravely ventured off on their own to check out the long grass to play in and logs and rocks to climb.
The young lions, one male and three females, were born June 22 to mother Oshana, who has been bonding with and caring for the little felines in her den, out of public view. Animal care staff says Oshana has been extremely protective and attentive to her cubs, and only recently began taking them into a behind-the-scenes outdoor area where they could run around and enjoy the sunshine. Today, keepers deemed the cubs were strong enough to explore the larger exhibit at Lion Camp.
The almost three-month-old cubs have been named Ernest, Evelyn, Marion and Miss Ellen, in honor of longtime San Diego Zoo Global supporters Ernest and Evelyn Rady and Marion Wilson, and in memory of Miss Ellen Browning Scripps, the San Diego Zoo's first benefactor. They are described by keepers to be very active, very vocal, curious and feisty, each with their own distinctive personalities. Keepers tell them apart by shaving a small patch of hair in a different place on each animal. Weighing approximately three-and-a-half pounds at birth, the cubs are healthy and growing well and currently weigh 22 pounds each. When full grown around three years of age, female lions can weigh around 300 pounds and male lions can weigh around 500 pounds.
The Safari Park's lion pride consists of Oshana and the four new cubs; the cub's father, Izu; adult female Mina; and two of Oshana's older offspring, Ken and Dixie. The cubs have been visually introduced to their father, Izu, and keepers will introduce them physically in the near future.
Visitors to Lion Camp may see Oshana and her cubs daily from 9 to 11:30 a.m., when keepers will rotate mom and cubs inside and bring out either Ken and Dixie, or Izu and Mina for the remainder of the day.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.