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Reid Park Zoo welcomes newborn lion cubs

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Reid Park Zoo welcomes newborn lion cubs

Trio born to Kaya the lioness are doing well, zoo says

After the recent tragedy of the death of a giraffe from oleander poisoning, the Reid Park Zoo finally has something to celebrate: the birth of three lion cubs, the zoo announced Tuesday.

The cubs — two males and a female — were discovered when a zookeeper arrived at work Thursday morning and heard tiny cries from the enclosure of an expectant lioness, Kaya.

The trio had their first medical examinations Tuesday morning and are doing well, said zoo spokeswoman Vivian VanPeenen.

Kaya and her cubs will be kept off display in a two-bedroom den with minimal lighting to reduce stress and human contact, and they will be given the best possible care from animal keepers and veterinarians, she said.

Kaya is on a a special mom diet to make sure she is able to nurse her cubs. The zoo said she is eating well.

“The mortality rate for cubs up to a year old is close to 30 percent in zoos — much better than mortality in the wild,” Jim Schnormeier, general curator of the zoo, said in a press release. “I am pleased that Kaya, as a young first-time mom, has taken to her cubs so well."

Shombay, the proud father of the pride, has been separated from the family for safety. He is calm, but curious, the zoo said.

Healthy cubs typically remain behind the scenes for about eight weeks, so it will be a bit of a wait before visitors will be able see the newborns. But those wanting to keep up to date on the pride can find information at the zoo's Facebook page and its website.

Lions are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Reid Park Zoo partners with other zoos around the country to make responsible breeding decisions for their protection, VanPeenen said.

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