Lion cubs on the way! Racine Zoo expecting a very special delivery…any day now!

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RACINE (WITI) — The Racine Zoo is anxiously awaiting the birth of its third litter of Transvaal lion cubs.  Azizi, the female lion, is expecting her first litter at any time and Zoo staff is extremely watchful.

Once again, Aslan, the male lion, is the father.

“There’s no question Aslan has proved he’s a great father, evident through his interactions with previous litters,” said Jay R. Christie, Racine Zoo president and CEO.  “Since this is Azizi’s first litter, we are cautiously optimistic everything will go as planned, hopefully without complications.”

The two lions have recently been separated in preparation for the birth.

Aslan continues to have access to the outdoor exhibit in Big Cat Canyon and Azizi now resides in an indoor exhibit within the historic Vanishing Kingdom building along with Max and Jenny the orangutans, and other primates.

A special cubbing den, where she will give birth, is just outside the public exhibit.

Per Zoo policy, staff will remain hands-off during the birth unless they are required to intervene if mother or the cubs are in any danger.

“The average gestation period for Transvaal lions is 109 days,” said Theresa Donarski, Racine Zoo curator of conservation and animal care.  “Between her 38-pound weight gain, her impatient demeanor, and other signs, we expect things to start happening soon. We are anxious and excited all at the same time!”

Once born, the cubs will remain quarantined for about six weeks before being introduced their public exhibit and to ensure they are healthy and well-adjusted to being around people.

The Zoo is grateful to once again have the support of Johnson Bank as presenting sponsor of this year’s “Pride of Racine.”

Johnson Bank was instrumental in raising funds to bring Transvaal lions to Racine more than 20 years ago and has presented both the 2008 and 2010 litters born at the Zoo.

Details about a “Name the Cubs” contest sponsored by Johnson Bank as well as many special events celebrating the cubs’ arrival will follow.

The Racine Zoo works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species.

Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

About the Racine Zoo

Nestled along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, the Racine Zoo is open year round.  Current hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Admission rates are: Members and children two and under: FREE, children two to 15: $6, seniors: $7, and adults: $8. Racine County residents take $1 off with valid photo I.D. For more information on the Racine Zoo, its programs and events, visit www.racinezoo.org, call 262.636.9189 and find us on Facebook and Twitter.