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Rare African Lion Cub Born at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

December 22, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive



NOTE:  Digital photos of the lion cub are attached.  No still or video photographs of the lion cub and mother can be allowed at this time. Thank you for understanding that this is necessary to protect the health and well being of the cub.


Rare African Lion Cub Born at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo


The Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo is excited to announce the birth of an African Lion Cub on Saturday, December 18th.


The male cub doesn’t have a name yet and weighs about three pounds.  The baby lion will nurse for about six months but will begin eating some solid food around three months of age.  It should be on exhibit sometime this spring.


It’s the second new animal at Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo in just a couple of weeks. On December 1st,  the zoo welcomed Sha-Lei, a female red panda who came to Madison from the Edmonton Zoo as part of an international breeding program.


“It is an honor for our zoo to play a valuable role in the survival of these endangered species, like the African Lion,” Acting County Executive Scott McDonell said.


The cub’s parents, Henry and Vilas, arrived at Henry Vilas Zoo in June of 1997 from a sanctuary in the Kalahari region of Africa.  This is their third birth - - their first was a single male cub in July of 2003.  They followed that with a litter of five cubs (three males and two females) in October of 2004. 


Lion Keeper Shane Elsinger reports that, “Vilas is an excellent mother, both cub and mother are doing well.”


Zoo Director Jim Hubing said, “Henry Vilas Zoo is privileged to help sustain African Lion populations.  Henry and Vilas’ previous offspring have already had their own litters of lion cubs at other AZA zoos.”


The African Lion Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) recommended this third breeding because their offspring are very valuable to the success of the Species Survival Plan.  There are only 186 pedigreed African Lions in 58 AZA accredited zoos.  Loss of habitat in both South and East Africa has endangered wild populations of lions.  


Plans will be announced soon for naming the new lion.

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