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15 May, 2022

Zoo welcomes three new cubs

Visitors can expect to see new a trio of lion cubs from this July onwards at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

By Natasha May

Three female cubs were born on April 7 to new breeding pair, Marion and Lwazi.

The zoo said that as a first-time moth- er, Marion experienced some complica- tions during the birth.

After delivering two healthy cubs, she required medical assistance after keepers observed her continuing to have contrac- tions, but with no further cubs born.

Thanks to close monitoring of the birth via CCTV, keepers in consultation with the Zoo’s veterinary team decided to intervene and perform a caesarean, where one more cub was sadly found stillborn, while another was successfully recovered.

Senior keeper Melanie Friedman said within a few hours of the surgery, Marion was reunited with her three healthy cubs and her incredible mothering instincts immediately kicked in.

“She set about ensuring all three cubs were clean and suckling, and neither she nor they have looked back since.”

The cubs are now a month old and their eyes have opened, and they are moving around in their den.

“In the last week they have put on approximately 800 grams each. Marion has recovered beautifully from her surgery and when the cubs aren’t suck- ling, she spends her time snuggling with them, often with the cubs nestled around her head,” said Ms Friedman.

This is the first litter of cubs born at

the Zoo since 2016. Another senior keep- er Megan Lewis said the previous cubs born at the zoo eventually had to be moved because they were all male to pre- vent them fighting with their father and inbreeding with their siblings.

Ms Lewis said because these cubs are girls there’s a greater chance they can stay at the zoo but there is still the possi- bility they will get a call up to go to another zoo as part of the region’s breed- ing program.

The arrival of the cubs is important for the regional breeding program, as the union of Marion and Lwazi introduces a new genetic line.

In the coming weeks, they will receive their first health checks and vac- cinations, and they will be introduced to Lwazi. Marion will also start to intro- duce them to the world outside the den.

NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said the new arrivals are just one of many reasons to plan a visit to the Dubbo Zoo.

“Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a powerhouse of conservation, leading the way to save some of our state’s most threatened wildlife from extinction, from Regent Honeyeaters to the iconic Greater Bilby, while also supporting global con- servation programs for species like the Black Rhinoceros.”

Ms Lewis highlighted lions are classed as being a vulnerable species as their populations are decreasing due to human-animal conflict. She says their biggest threat is human encroachment on their habitat. 

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