It’s the “Year of the Cat” indeed at the Philadelphia Zoo as 4-year-old Tajiri and 6-year-old Makini — African lions — welcomed four new cubs into the world.
Even though Tajiri is a first-time mother, the zoo’s general curator Kevin Murphy said she’s a natural.
“First-time moms are not always great moms — they learn by their own mistakes,” he said. “But [Tajiri] is absolutely so far a model mother. She is amazing.”
The cubs, who weigh in at under 4 pounds, haven’t been exposed to human contact yet; Murphy said zoo officials will keep mother and children together as long as possible.
“We want to make sure they are completely bonded to the mother,” Murphy said, adding that they don’t want Tajiri to smell any new scents. Dad Makini is in the stall next to his new offspring.
The cubs were born on June 26, the first litter for the lion couple that Murphy said are “super connected.” Zoo officials have been monitoring the new family by video camera. After a few months, the newborns will debut to the public.
Paws and take notice
- The four lion cubs are the first born at the Philadelphia Zoo since 1996.
- Zoo officials have ramped up efforts to breed big cats, marking 2014 the "Year of the Big Cat."
- Big Cat Crossing, an elevated trail putting large cats right above visitors' heads, opened in May.