A black and white photo with the caption “some very, very exciting news” introduced Mogo Wildlife Park’s newest addition to the family.
Lioness Chitwa gave birth to a single cub in early April, with the zoo keeping the new baby quiet until now.
“They’re going better than you can imagine. Chitwa is an amazing mum,” zookeeper Chad Staples said.
Male lion Baaku is the father of the yet-to-be-named cub, making it a full sibling of the wildlife park’s famous resident, Phoenix.
“This is the second time Chitwa has had two litters in a row, which is interesting,” Chad said.
“It’s one of those interesting biological roulette things, [lions] normally have more than one cub.”
The sex of the cub hasn’t yet been determined as zookeepers have been wanting to give mum and bub the privacy to bond and recover.
The pair will stay in their den for the next month to six weeks before they can be reunited with the rest of their pride.
“In the wild, the mum goes away to give birth, then once the baby can move with the pride, she returns,” Chad said.
“They’ll spend a few weeks interacting through the fence with the father and grandmother before we bring them back together.”
The sex of the cub will determine whether it can stay with the pride permanently.
“If it’s a girl, it can stay with the pride and be a non-breeding female to make their group larger,” Chad said.
“However, if it’s a boy, it can only stay for 12 months, as then Baaku will stop regarding it as a son and more as a threat, so by that time, we’d have to move him on.”
But for now, the cub is already capturing hearts.
“Lions are one of those species you can fall in love with more and more. It’s always very special when a new one is born,” Chad said.
“I’m already head over heels in love with this cub. Each day more and more life comes into its eyes.
“It definitely makes it hard to get anything else done!”
The cub’s birth comes not long after its big brother Phoenix was reunited with his half-sister Maji, letting the pair create a second pride at the wildlife park.