Kiki, a 9-year-old African lioness at Zoo Atlanta
Kiki, a 9-year-old African lioness, is expecting her second litter of cubs.
Confirmed through an ultrasound by the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams on Monday, the pregnancy marks the latest in an exceptional series of highly anticipated new arrivals at Zoo Atlanta.
“We’re delighted about Kiki’s pregnancy and are excited about rounding out 2013 with still more Zoo babies to watch grow, even after a truly remarkable year for high-profile births,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “We’re proud to be able to offer our Members and guests a rare opportunity to see youngsters of so many different species in one place and at one time.”
Kiki and her mate, 9-year-old Kamau, have produced one previous litter. Born in 2008, males Christos, Mikalos and Athanaisi now reside at Africam Safari in Puebla, Mexico.
“Kiki has already shown us that she’s an attentive and protective mother. We look forward to seeing her with a new litter of cubs,” said Dwight Lawson, PhD, Deputy Director. “It’s been more than five years since we’ve had that privilege, and we know from experience that lion cubs are a joy to watch.”
Lion gestation averages three to four months, and litter size is usually one to five cubs. The cubs, which are born blind and entirely dependent on their mothers for care and protection, usually stay with their mothers for around 18 months.
Found in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, African lions are currently classified as vulnerable. The wild population is in decline because of threats such as habitat loss, retaliatory killing by humans because of livestock predation and population declines as a result of reductions in available prey species.
Kiki’s cubs will join a bumper crop of 2013 babies, including the first rhino calf ever born in the Zoo’s 124-year history; two infant gorillas; two infant orangutans; and Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the twin giant pandas born to Lun Lun in July 2013. All but the panda cubs, expected to make their debut later this fall, are on exhibit now with their mothers.