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Santa Barbara Zoo proudly welcomes new African lion cub

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Zoo was happy to announce Thursday that their African lion pride is expanding.

The zoo's female lion, Felicia, recently gave birth to her first cub just six months after the zoo brought in its new male lion, Ralph. The zoo reported both mother and cub are doing well.

The cub, who came into the world last Thursday, weighed 3.9 pounds during its first medical examination on Wednesday. Its sex will be determined at the next medical examination.

The public is invited to help welcome the new lion cub by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the African lion.

“Both Felicia and the cub appear healthy and are doing well,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care & Health. “The first few weeks of a lion cub’s life are very fragile, so the best course of action for us during this time is to allow Felicia to care for and bond with her new cub. Our animal care team will continue to closely monitor Felicia and the cub while giving the solitude needed during this critical first period.”

2-year-old Felicia and her cub will remain behind the scenes for about eight weeks before making their official public debut at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The zoo will be sharing viewing information as soon as it becomes available on their social media channels.

The zoo’s animal care staff said they were strongly suspicious Felicia was pregnant based on some physical changes and fecal hormone analysis.

The zoo said lion pregnancies last about 110 days and they were not able to confirm pregnancy through hormone analysis until 60 days after mating due to the possibility of a pseudo-pregnancy. If the hormone levels are still elevated 60-70 days after mating, then the female is confirmed pregnant.

Felicia and Ralph were recommended to be a good pair by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums as part of its Species Survival Plan to maintain a sustainable population of lions in North America.

5-year-old Ralph was brought to Santa Barbara in May of 2020 as part of that plan. The zoo's previous male lion, Chadwick, sadly passed away almost one year ago.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a nonprofit corporation that houses more than 500 individual animals. Ticket reservations for visitors can be made online.

For more information, visit the zoo's website

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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