Say hello to these little cuties, the newest arrivals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
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Lion keepers in Dubbo received the best gift for International Zookeeper Day, with a trio of healthy lion cubs born late in the evening on Wednesday, October 4, 2023.
"The cubs are doing really well, they're hitting all their milestones and Marion is an absolute superstar mum," said senior big cat keeper Melanie Friedman.
"They've had their first quick vet check and we can confirm there's two boys and a girl, their eyes are open and they're all weighing in at around five kilograms.
"They're currently behind the scenes bonding with mum, getting to know all the ins and outs of being a lion!"
Keepers closely monitored Marion via CCTV in the weeks leading up to the birth, after she experienced some complications with her first litter and required an emergency caesarean.
But this time things went a lot more smoothly for mum.
Zookeepers noticed Marion was in labour on the morning of October 4, before giving birth to two cubs between 9:00pm and 10:00pm that evening. The third cub arrived a few hours later.
"We were up very, very late watching but it was very exciting that we didn't have to intervene, she delivered them all naturally - it was a really joyous moment," Ms Friedman said.
"Lions are not an endangered species but their numbers are declining in the wild, so every birth is important.
"Being an imported lioness from America, Marion brought new genetics into our region so this litter of cubs is really important for the regional breeding program."
This is the second litter for breeding pair Marion and Lwazi, after three baby girls were born on April, 7 2022.
The newborns will spend their first few months of life behind the scenes. They will receive their first health checks and vaccinations, before Marion starts to introduce them to the world outside the den, including to dad Lwazi and their three older sisters.
"Imani, Mara and Amali - who are now sub-adult females - are missing mum because they have been separated for a little while but we are actually putting Marion out with those three girls and Lwazi every morning," Ms Friedman said.
"It's really nice to see the whole family back together again even if it is only for short bursts of time but that will progress and a bit down the track we'll start the introduction of dad and the older sisters to the subs."
Guests can see the zoo's three 19-year-old states-lions Kiamba, Zalika and Tiombe, as well as Lwazi and 18-month-old Imani, Mara and Amali at Lion Pride Lands at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
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