Lion update: Kya's cubs are 'healthy and hefty'

September 19, 2014 - 3:40pm

Zookeepers say 11-day-old African lions are nursing well and continue to thrive

African lion Kya's three 11-day-old cubs — one male and two females — are "healthy, hefty and doing exceptionally well," according to keepers at the Oregon Zoo. At an exam and weigh-in yesterday, the cubs all topped 5½ pounds, with one of the female cubs tipping the scales at around 6½ pounds.

"They weigh more than Neka's cubs did at this time last year," said Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo's Africa area. "Kya's a bigger mom for one thing, and she seems to allow her cubs to nurse a little more too. Neka would take more breaks, but Kya lets them nurse as much as they want."

The checkup also afforded zoo staff the chance to get their first images of the young lions outside their den box.

"Their eyes are mostly open now, and they're moving around a lot," Weiner said. "They're still kind of wobbly, but very active."

The first-time mom and her new family remain off exhibit in a private maternity den to allow the new family a comfortable place to bond. As with Neka last year, animal-care staff have taken a mostly hands-off approach, but are closely monitoring the litter to make sure everything is going well.

In about eight weeks, if the cubs are healthy and continue to thrive — and the weather is warm enough — animal-care staff will evaluate whether they are ready for a public debut.