Five lion cubs join Sydney zoo pride

·2-min read

Five lion cubs have made their public debut at Taronga Zoo, the first litter of the big cats born at the Sydney tourist attraction in more than 18 years.

The 12-week-old cubs, three females and two males, were born in August.

Zoo supporters helped decide the three female cubs' Swahili names Malika, Zuri and Ayanna, meaning "like a queen", "beautiful" and "beautiful flower".

The public also helped choose the name of one of the male cubs Khari, meaning "like a king".

Taronga's carnivore keepers named the other male cub Luzuko, a South African name meaning "glory".

Their mother Maya was transferred to Sydney from Taronga's Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo in regional NSW a year ago, where she had lived since coming to Australia from a South African zoo in 2014.

She took up residence in the new African Savannah precinct that opened in June last year, where she was introduced to lion brothers Lwazi and Ato to establish a pride at the zoo.

Maya and Ato sired the cubs, which will have access to the main exhibit for a couple hours a day until they gain confidence.

Taronga Zoo Sydney carnivore unit supervisor Louise Ginman says the cubs, weighing between 11-13kg, are growing at a rapid rate and developing their own unique personalities.

"Our guests are going to be in for a real treat every time they come to visit and see the cubs - with so many milestones on the horizon, no two visits will be the same," Ms Ginman said.

Already the cubs have been learning how to climb and forage, in front of a live audience turning into the zoo's online "cub cam".

Taronga Zoo says the cubs are an "important part of the regional breeding programs to support insurance populations, with lions sadly now extinct in 27 African countries".

The zoo reopened to fully vaccinated visitors on October 11.

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