NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans zoo is celebrating the birth of cubs to lions which came to the facility last year from Oregon and Illinois.
Four-year-old Kali gave birth Jan. 11 to three cubs, and two of them survived, the Audubon Zoo said in a news release Tuesday.
"The cubs' birth is a huge success for the Lion Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy, genetically diverse populations of lions within Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions," said Steve Marshall, vice president and managing director of Audubon Zoo and Audubon Park. "Half of Africa's lions have disappeared in the past 25 years, and the species faces growing threats from poaching, loss of prey, and habitat destruction.''
Only about 20,000 lions remain in Africa, zoo curator and vice president Joel Hamilton said in May.
Kali and two other females came to New Orleans in March from the Peoria Zoo in Illinois. The father, 4-year-old Arnold, arrived in February from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. They were introduced to the public May 18, when the zoo's lion habitat opened.
Zoo-goers won't be able to see the cubs for at least 12 weeks, but the zoo plans to have regular photo and video updates on social media in the meanwhile, the news release said.
That will give the cubs time to bond with their mother and be vaccinated, and then be introduced gradually to the rest of the pride: Arnold, Nia and Zuri.