Lions And Zoos

The Knoxville Zoo is home to two endangered newborn African lions.


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WJHL) – The Knoxville Zoo has yet another reason to celebrate this holiday season after the birth of two endangered African lion cubs on December 21 – marking the first cubs born at the zoo since 2006.

A zoo statement says a male and female first opened their eyes to the world following an emergency Cesarean section.

Mother Amara was due to give birth from mid-December to the end of December, but began to show signs of labor without the birth progress. His healthcare team sprang into action after an ultrasound revealed a teddy bear was lodged in the birth canal in a breech position.

While four cubs were delivered, only two survived, the release says. The early intervention saved the pair of cubs, who are described as healthy and vocal.

Zoo staff will bottle-feed the babies due to Amara’s surgery and her inexperience as a mother, the statement said. Newborn cubs are the first descendants of Amara and Upepo.

The Knoxville Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which continues to work with the African Lion SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program to secure a future for the species.

According to the zoo’s website, African lions are considered a vulnerable and declining population. The Knoxville Zoo is currently home to three adult lions: Upeppo, Zarina, and Amara.