The Oklahoma City Zoo has welcomed four new residents: a litter of tiny newborn lion cubs.
The cubs were born on September 26, according to a press release from the zoo. First mother Dunia, a 7-year-old African lioness, gave birth around 7:15 a.m., the statement said.
Three of the cubs are female and one male, according to the zoo. All four newborns and their mother are healthy, with all babies starting to nurse within hours of birth. The new cubs are the first to be born at the zoo in 15 years.
“We are incredibly thrilled to share news of the recent additions to our pride of African lions,” said Tyler Boyd, the zoo’s curator of carnivores. “Throughout her pregnancy, birth and now caring for these four little ones, Dunia has been amazing and demonstrated excellent maternal care.”
“This birth is vital for the African lion population,” he continued. “We can’t wait to see these cubs grow up and become fan favorites for years to come.”
One day, the new residents of the Oklahoma City Zoo will be massive predators capable of taking down huge prey in the wild. But for now, each cub weighs less than 3 pounds, the statement explains.
For now, the cubs will remain out of sight of visitors, according to the statement. In the weeks to come, they will receive their vaccines and then be slowly introduced to the other members of the troop.
African lions are classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their population fell by more than 20% between 1993 and 2014 due to human killings and habitat loss, according to the organization.