CHICAGO — It’s been six weeks since three lion cubs were born at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and while they aren’t ready for visitors, they’re ready for their first doctor’s appointment.
On Jan. 9, Mom Zari gave birth to three new cubs. Six weeks later, the veterinarians at the zoo are monitoring their progress.
“Once infants are born, they are very much left alone with their mother,” Kathryn Gamble, director of veterinary medicine, said. “We monitor completely by remote camera that we’re able to see how she’s caring for them, how they’re growing, reaching their milestones. Are their eyes opening? Are they moving? Are they nursing? What are they doing?”
Like with any new baby, the nursery had to be prepared. The trio of cubs arrived just a little over a year after the opening of the brand new Pepper Family Wildlife Center, taking the place of the historic Lion House built in 1912.
The cubs also come a year after the arrival of big brother Pilipili – a solo act, no siblings, but the first born at the zoo in two decades.
“Pilipili has only seen the babies from a distance,” Gamble said. “It takes several weeks for the mother to get to a comfort level with us being ok, with us getting to a close proximity to her space.”
That moment came earlier this week when the cubs, who haven’t been named yet, had their first wellness exam.
Each of the cubs were microchipped, given their six-week vaccinations, parasite control and given a physical.
“We found out they’re all brothers for Pilipili,” Gamble said.
Each of the cubs, all males and about 15 pounds each, are consuming about a quart of mom’s milk every day.
So far, they’re progressing as they should.
“Mom’s taking care of all three of them and she’s done so from the beginning,” Gamble said. “For me, it’s a very important thing. We don’t want to intervene with any of our new moms if we don’t have to. We, as veterinarians, are on standby.”
In the next few weeks, the cubs will get to meet the rest of the pride, their aunts, big brother and father Jabari.
And hopefully, soon they will be able to meet visitors at the zoo.
But for now, it’s safety first with the baby lions.