Three African lion cubs were born at Naples Zoo this year! The first cub was born on May 13, 2019 and cubs two and three were born the next morning on May 14 to first time mother, 13-year-old Shani. This is the first time lion cubs have been born at Naples Zoo in over 30 years. Shani and her mate, 11-year-old Masamba, were specifically matched by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The SSP is a cooperatively managed breeding program that works to create sustainable populations of threatened and endangered species.
The lion cubs' are named Ruaha, Chobe, and Karoo, after three national parks in Africa! The names were chosen as part of a community-wide naming contest and vote.
African lions are classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Overall lion numbers continue to decline due to illegal hunting, reductions in prey populations, and habitat loss.
“Because 90% of Africa’s lion population has disappeared in the last 75 years, Naples Zoo’s strategic response is two-fold,” said Jack Mulvena, Naples Zoo President and CEO. “First, we cooperate in a scientific breeding program that has created a healthy, long-term population through significant births like these. Second, we fund successful efforts in Africa that are helping to reverse this decline by reducing human-wildlife conflict. We also host safaris annually that bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into places that protect lions.”