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Lion Cubs
The Racine Zoo has announced the birth of two Transvaal lion cubs - one male and one female. The cubs are the second litter born to proud parents, Elsa and Aslan. Elsa gave birth on Tuesday, March 16, with both cubs born between 8 and 9 a.m. Both mother and cubs are doing very well, hitting all health and developmental benchmarks. Photo courtesy Racine Zoo

RACINE - The two lion cubs just started stretching their legs and even wrestling with each other, caretakers said, though at a little more than one month old they're still wobbly on their paws. 

The Racine Zoo announced Thursday the births of two Transvaal lion cubs - one male and one female - born on March 16.

The cubs are the second litter born to Elsa and Aslan at the zoo, 2131 North Main St. Elsa and the cubs are doing well, zoo officials said. The male and female cubs, both just over a foot long, weigh about 11 pounds and 12 pounds respectively.

"The female is more like her mother - she's more feisty and adventurous," said Theresa Donarski, animal care supervisor at the zoo. "She was the first one out of the box, to venture around. The male is more laid back, a lot like his father. He sleeps a lot and watches from the sidelines."

Mom Elsa will stay by her cubs a lot of the time, though she started to sleep by herself and give them more breathing room, Donarski said.

"She is very affectionate," she said. "There's a lot of licking and grooming."

When the caretakers are around, mom'll keep an eye on them and make little growls so the cubs scurry back to their den. Dad Aslan has not yet had direct contact with the cubs for safety reasons, only nose-to-nose contact through a mesh gate.

Elsa and Aslan came to the zoo in November 2005 and the pair had their first litter in 2007.

The cubs will be in quarantine until May 27 to give them time to get used to their family and surroundings. Their first public appearance will be May 29 and from then on will be on exhibit daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The timing is somewhat significant," said Jay Christie, zoo President and CEO. "(The cubs) I imagine will have a measurable impact on our attendance because we're just going into our season now."

The community will get a chance to name the two cubs in the coming weeks, as they did for the first litter, which were named Kwame, Kya, Bomani and Jabari. The naming contest is expected to launch in the next couple of weeks.

"This is also a significant birth because lions sadly are disappearing," Christie said. "That makes it more important than ever."


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