Three African lion cubs have been born in Melbourne for the first time in nearly six years.
Lioness Nilo gave birth to her cubs at the Werribee Open Range Zoo on Sunday evening after a three-month pregnancy.
The cubs, each weighing about 1.5kg, were feeding well and bonding with mum, zoo director Mark Pilgrim said.
“The safe arrival of these lion cubs is really exciting,” Dr Pilgrim said.
“It’s wonderful to have three more healthy African lions in the Australasian zoo breeding and conservation program.”
African lions are listed as a vulnerable species, with between 23,000 and 39,000 left in the wild.
Nilo and her mating partner Sheru both came to Werribee as part of the zoo’s efforts to increase the lion population.
Dr Pilgrim said Nilo and her cubs would remain in a private area of the zoo for about eight weeks to bond.
“In the wild, when it is time for a lioness to give birth, she will leave her pride to find a private shelter in the bushes or a cave,” he said.
“This is done to protect and care for her cubs while they are unable to defend themselves.
“Nilo and her cubs will have the opportunity to replicate those wild behaviours here at the zoo too.”
The public will get an opportunity to name the new cubs through a competition in the coming weeks.
(Australian Associated Press)