Riverbanks Zoo welcoming three news lion cubs

Riverbanks Zoo welcoming three news lion cubs (Riverbanks Zoo and Garden)

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) – Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has announced that the zoo’s African lion population has grown.

Thabisa is a first-time mom and delivered three healthy babies Tuesday, April 10. The first cub arrived at 12:20 p.m., the second arrived at 3:23 p.m. and the third arrived at 5:15 p.m.

"Animal births always are very exciting for Riverbanks and the community," said John Davis, director of animal care and welfare at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Thabisa is being a great mom. She is bonding well with her offspring and nursing is going exactly as it should."

The zoo is also expecting a litter of lions from Thabisa’s sister, Lindelani. The 3-year-old lionesses both came to Riverbanks in May of 2017 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP).

"We anticipate that Lindelani will deliver any day now," Davis said. "Any and all of the births are a significant contribution to the SSP and sustainability of the species."

The last lion cubs raised at Riverbanks were born in June of 2008. Those offspring also were fathered by the Zoo's 13-year-old male lion, Zuri. Davis adds that Zuri will slowly be introduced to Thabisa, Lindelani, and the cubs to prevent any distractions for the first-time mothers.

The lion cubs will remain off exhibit until they are about three months old and large enough to be introduced to the outdoor habitat. An opportunity to name the cubs will be announced following Lindelani's delivery.

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