Arts and Culture

The Denver Zoo Has a New Pride and Joy –– Two, Actually

When the newborn cubs are ready to leave the pen, they'll join the rest of their pride on Predator Ridge.
When the newborn cubs are ready to leave the pen, they'll join the rest of their pride on Predator Ridge. Kurt Cotoaga / Unsplash
Just last week, on April 23, the Denver Zoo welcomed two new lion cubs to Predator Ridge. The cubs, who are too young to be sexed, were born to Mother Kamara and father Tobias, both four years old.

In captivity, a lion's lifespan is increased by an average of five years. In the wild, lions live to be about fifteen. In captivity, that increases to twenty.

The animal-care staff at the Denver Zoo say that Kamara and her cubs are healthy and happy, and that they'll enjoy a few months of rest behind the scenes before they join the other lions in their pride.

“We are watching Kamara closely to make sure she’s showing appropriate maternal behaviors, like nursing and grooming,” says Assistant Curator of Predators Matt Lenyo. “We’re seeing a lot of positive signs that things are going well, and will continue to keep a close eye on her and the cubs in these critical first days and weeks.”

This is a particularly welcomed birth, as the world's lion population is in decline. Over the past 25 years, half of Africa’s lions have disappeared as a result of poaching, loss of prey and habitat destruction.

The Denver Zoo's new cubs signal a success for the Lion Species Survival Plan, which aims to oversee the population management of select species within Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member institutions.

"These cubs are an important contribution to the species’ population in AZA facilities, and will help inspire visitors to learn more about their wild cousins,” says General Curator Emily Insalaco.

For the next few months, Kamara and her cubs will relax in their den box, which has been modeled after the environment that wild lions seek for birth and early cub rearing. Kamara will still have access to other holding areas behind the scenes of Predator Ridge, but the den box assures her and her cubs that they have a safe space.

In addition to this exciting birth, the Denver Zoo has also been sharing a #bringingthezootoyou series, showcasing the unique and fascinating creatures that inhabit the property. Visit the Zoo to You: Virtual Safari page for education, entertainment, wildlife-themed activities and other ways to engage with the zoo's 3,000 animal residents.
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Lauren Antonoff is a Denver native dedicated to telling Colorado stories. She loves all things multi-media, and can often be found tinkering in digital collage. She joined the Westword team in 2019, where she serves as the Audience Engagement Editor — connecting people, ideas, and the stories that matter.
Contact: Lauren Antonoff