One of the two female lions at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines has become the mother of three cubs. The births come as the lion population in the wild declines dramatically.
The zoo’s lioness Neema gave birth Nov. 14 to two female cubs and one male. Neema arrived in Des Moines in June. The father, Deuce, has lived at Blank Park since 2012. They are part of a Species Survival Plan zoos have put in place to protect the great cats. Zoo CEO Mark Vukovich says the past 20 years have seen a steep decline in the number of wild lions.
“The number of lions has dropped from 100,000 in 1990 to the low 20s or high teens of thousands as of the first of last year,”
Vukovich says when grown, the unnamed cubs will likely be shipped off to other zoos to breed.
“We’ll keep them a year or two or maybe even three depending on maturity and what’s going on with captive species, but they will move on to another site and help the species survive,” he says.
The cubs will go through a series of vaccinations before they are available for public viewing. Plans for naming them will be unveiled in the coming weeks.