Zoo forecast: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of cubs

Oregon Zoo lion cubs begin to explore habitat, but no viewing hours are set

Neka's cubs have begun to explore the Oregon Zoo's outdoor lion habitat, but only for short periods and not according to a set schedule, officials said.

While the cubs' official public debut may have to wait for spring when they're a little bigger and temperatures have started to rise, keepers took advantage of a couple warm, sunny afternoons this past week to get the young lions acquainted with their new space.

"It's possible visitors might catch glimpses of the cubs in the coming weeks, but all the conditions need to be just right."

—Laura Weiner, senior keeper

"It's possible visitors might catch glimpses of the cubs in the coming weeks, but all the conditions need to be just right," said Laura Weiner, senior keeper of the zoo's Africa area. "Their welfare will be the guiding principle on when or if they're out."

Weiner said the cubs also have been enjoying time in a behind-the-scenes outdoor space for several days.

"They've been having a great time," Weiner said. "They're doing just what lions should be at their age — climbing and jumping off logs, swatting at each other. Angalia even jumped in the water drinker very briefly."

Before letting the cubs into the lion habitat, keepers have been "baby-proofing" it — draining the pool and lining the bottom of the moat with straw bedding to make it safer for the cubs.

"If any of the cubs decide to roll down the hill, they'll have a soft landing," Weiner said. "We're not sure they'll venture out that far, but we want to be prepared just in case."

The female cubs have been living in a private maternity den since their birth Sept. 7 to 6-year-old Neka, a first-time mom.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org