SALT LAKE CITY — The 2014 opening of African Savanna saw the arrival of four lions to Hogle Zoo — brothers Baron and Vulcan and sisters Nobu and Sela.
Once Nobu and Sela were big enough, they were carefully introduced to Baron and Vulcan, and they got along great, zoo officials said. Fast forward a few months and three cubs were born to Nobu and Baron on Feb. 24.
"There is always some anxiety because you'll never know what kind of mom they'll be," Valerie Schubert, primary lion keeper, said in a statement. "But Nobu is a wonderful first-time mother. She is extremely affectionate and protective of her cubs."
After the typical 110-day gestation, Nobu went into labor without much warning and delivered all three cubs within six hours, "which is pretty quick," Schubert said.
Each cub weighed roughly 2 pounds at birth. "She was a great mom as soon as they arrived," Schubert said. "She immediately started cleaning them and they started nursing right away."
"After a 10 year absence, it's great to have African lions back in the zoo and doing so well in their new home at 'African Savanna,'" Craig Dinsmore, zoo executive director, said in a statement. "Now to have our first cubs born here in over 20 years is just wonderful, and with lions in Africa facing greater and greater peril, this birth is important."
For now, the cubs are sticking close to their mom and they'll be bonding for the next several weeks.
The keepers are also working on the nuances of introducing Sela to the cubs. Once they're all together, they'll need to introduce them to Baron and Vulcan.
This process takes several weeks of careful observation and attention by keepers and animal care staff. Eventually, guests will be able to visit the full pride later this spring.