Education / Local / Science / Virginia

Zoo has a new lion cub

The male lion cub on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. He now weighs approximately 10 pounds. Photo courtesy of Virginia Zoo.

NORFOLK, VA: The Virginia Zoo is thrilled to announce its latest birth of a lion cub. The male cub was born on October 28 to experienced mom Zola and dad Mramba. The cub weighed just three pounds five ounces at birth and has been a pure joy to all his Keepers.

“The birth of any animal is always exciting,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “The birth of this lion cub specifically is a significant contribution to its genetic population and also provides a fun educational opportunity to our community,” Bockheim added.

The 13-year-old lion gave birth in her indoor den in the Zoo’s Africa – Okavango Delta exhibit. She immediately displayed natural instincts of nursing and grooming the cub. The fuzzy and vocal cub opened his eyes within a few days and bonded with mom. The lion cub is weighed every few days to ensure that he is growing appropriately. Now, at four weeks old, the cub weighs approximately 10 pounds, which is a healthy size for his age. Routine physical exams will be performed as he grows and he will receive vaccinations to strengthen his immune system before going out on exhibit.

Although Zola and her cub are behind the scenes in their cubbing dens, the Zoo will be posting photos, videos, and periodic updates on Facebook and Instagram. A Cub Cam will be coming soon!

Veterinary and Keeper staff have been keeping a close watch on Zola and the cub to ensure normal development and bonding. When the cub was about one week old, it was apparent Zola’s grooming might have become a little too ambitious, as the cub had developed a wound under his right arm. Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian, treated the area with antibiotics during his first examination and monitored his condition overnight. The wound has been gradually healing.

“This isn’t uncommon for a single cub,” said Dr. Clabbers. “Typically a lioness births two to five cubs and can spread her attention among all of them. In this case, Zola only has one cub to care for, and although she’s doing a great job, her strong maternal instincts have proven to be a little excessive,” Dr. Clabbers added. To help provide a healthy distraction, Zoo Keepers have added enrichment items in Zola’s enclosure while she bonds with her cub off exhibit.

About African Lions

Lions are considered to be vulnerable to extinction according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The lion population has dropped by 43 percent over the past 20 years due to several factors such as habitat loss, the decline of prey, and death due to humans defending their land, livestock and lives. Current data leads the IUCN to believe that there are less than 30,000 lions left in the wild.

About the Virginia Zoo

The Virginia Zoo, located in Norfolk, Virginia is home to more than 500 animals representing over 100 different species. Founded in 1901 and residing on 53 landscaped acres in Lafayette, the Virginia Zoo has demonstrated a commitment to education and conservation for more than a century. The Virginia Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Visit or call (757) 441-2374 for more information.