The Story of Omaha’s Lion Cubs


In the heart of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, a tale of resilience and care unfolds as five lion cubs make their grand entrance into the world. Born on December 29, 2012, to first-time mother Mfisha and father Mr. Big, these little feline wonders bring both joy and challenges to the zoo’s animal care staff.

The images capture the essence of the lion cub experience, revealing the adorable antics of two male and three female cubs. Four of them proudly share the spotlight with their mother and aunt, creating a heartening tableau of familial bonds. However, one female cub embarks on a unique journey, currently under round-the-clock care in the zoo’s hospital.


Born smaller than her siblings, this resilient cub faced challenges in competing for food. At 24 hours old, the Animal Care Staff intervened, providing fluids to ensure her hydration. Determined to give her the best chance at life, the decision was made to move her to the hospital for hand-rearing at 48 hours old. Once her health stabilizes and she gains weight, the little lioness will be introduced to her mother and siblings, with keepers providing extra feedings throughout the day.


This breeding initiative aligns with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation, focusing on the krugeri subspecies and contributing to the Felid Taxon Advisory Group’s efforts to preserve the lineage of African Lions in AZA-accredited zoos across North America. Notably, there have been eleven African Lion births in the past twelve months at these zoos, excluding the recent additions at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.


The African Lion, listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN, faces a declining population of 30% to 50% over the last two decades. This poignant reality underscores the critical role zoos play in conservation efforts. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, embracing its commitment to preserving known lineages, celebrates the birth of these lion cubs as a beacon of hope for the vulnerable species.

As the cubs grow and thrive, their story becomes a testament to the importance of collaborative efforts in safeguarding the future of African Lions. The last lion birth at the zoo dates back to 1994, making this recent addition a particularly special and cherished moment in the zoo’s history. The rising stars of Omaha’s lion pride symbolize the resilience and determination needed to secure a brighter future for these majestic creatures.

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