The Oklahoma City Zoo has welcomed four new residents: a litter of tiny newborn lion cubs.
The cubs were born September 26, according to a news release from the zoo. The first-time mother Dunia, a 7-year-old African lion, went into labor around 7:15 a.m., the release noted.
Three of the cubs are female and one is male, according to the zoo. All four newborns and their mother are in good health, with all the babies starting to nurse within hours of their birth. The new cubs are the first to be born at the zoo in 15 years.
“We are incredibly excited to share the news about the recent additions to our African lion pride,” said Tyler Boyd, the zoo’s curator of carnivores. “Throughout her pregnancy, birth and now care of these four cubs, Dunia has been amazing and is showing excellent maternal care.”
“This birth is vital to the African lion population,” he continued. “We cannot wait to watch these cubs grow up and become fan favorites for years to come.”
One day, the Oklahoma City Zoo’s newest residents will be massive predators capable of taking down huge prey in the wild. But for now, each cub is less than 3 pounds, the release explained.
For now, the cubs will remain out of view for visitors, according to the release. In the coming weeks, they’ll receive their vaccinations and then slowly be introduced to the other members of the pride.
African lions are ranked as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their population fell by more than 20% between 1993 and 2014 due to killing by humans and habitat loss, according to the organization.