Lion Cub Born at the Santa Barbara Zoo
Source: Santa Barbara Zoo
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s African lion, Felicia, has given birth to her first cub, and the two are currently bonding together behind the scenes. The cub, whose name will be announced in the coming weeks, was born on Thursday, November 5, just six months after its mother and father, Ralph, arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The cub weighed in at 3.9 lbs at its first medical examination, which took place on Wednesday, November 11. The sex will be determined at its next examination.
“Both Felicia and the cub appear healthy and are doing well,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care & Health. “The first few weeks of a lion cub’s life are very fragile, so the best course of action for us during this time is to allow Felicia to care for and bond with her new cub. Our animal care team will continue to closely monitor Felicia and the cub while giving the solitude needed during this critical first period.”
Felicia and the cub will remain behind the scenes for approximately eight weeks before making their official public debut. The Zoo will share viewing information as soon as it becomes available, but in the meantime, the public is encouraged to tune into the Zoo’s social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for updates.
The Zoo’s animal care staff were strongly suspicious Felicia was pregnant based on her physical changes and fecal hormone analysis. Lion pregnancies are only approximately 110 days and although pregnancy can be determined by measuring hormone levels in the female's feces, this is not done until 60 days after mating due to the possibility of a pseudo-pregnancy. If the hormone levels are still elevated 60-70 days after mating, then the female is confirmed pregnant.
This is the first cub for both Felicia (two years old) and Ralph (five years old), who arrived at the Zoo this past May. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommended the pairing of Felicia and Ralph as part of its Species Survival Plan to maintain a sustainable population of lions in North America. As part of the AZA’s cooperative breeding program, the Zoo started the planning process to bring in new lions even before the passing of longtime beloved lion, Chadwick, in December of 2019.
Support the pride! The public is invited to help welcome the new lion cub by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the African lion. New Foster Feeders at all levels will receive a personalized digital Foster Feeder certificate (includes honoree’s name and lion photo), and recognition on the Foster Feeder board at the Zoo. Various donation levels are available on the website with different, wild benefits! For more information or to become a Foster Feeder, click here: https://sbzoo.pivvit.com/african-lion
African lions are the second largest big cat after tigers and are the only truly social cats. In the wild, they live in groups called prides, which consist of six to seven lions on average. All females in a pride are typically related, and outsiders of either gender are not tolerated. Listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, their population is steadily decreasing in the wild. In just two decades, populations decreased by 43 percent, and it’s estimated that as few as 23,000 remain today. Threats to lions include habitat loss, poaching, and retaliation killings by farmers attempting to protect their livestock. One of the main causes is the alarming rate at which they are losing their habitats due to expanding human populations and the resulting growth of agriculture, settlements, and roads.